Spielberg’s Lincoln Might Be Exciting After All

Slate's Culture Blog
Oct. 4 2012 1:48 PM

Lincoln Might Thrill Us After All

Daniel-Day Lewis in Lincoln
Daniel Day-Lewis shows his immense power in Lincoln.

Still from the new TV spot for Lincoln.

When its first trailer appeared with much pomp and circumstance last month, we here at Brow Beat wondered if Lincoln was going to be too sedate. While Spielberg had said he and his star, Daniel Day-Lewis, depicted the 16th president “as a man, not a monument,” that promised humanity only barely broke through.

But Day-Lewis’s Lincoln burst loose from his marble mold last night. In a lengthy new TV spot released to coincide with last night’s presidential debate, Day-Lewis  finally unleashes the great power of the 16th president. After an extended narration swiftly eases us into the surprisingly meek voice the great orator really had, the second half of the trailer focuses on Lincoln’s jaw-quivering passion, with Old Abe stomping around and banging tables to call his rivals’ attention to the immense stakes. When Day-Lewis finally unleashes the presidential swagger, he raises his voice to claim his fearsome stature with Lincoln’s imposing words, ripped straight from the mouth of history, “I am the president of the United States of America, clothed in immense power!

It is way more awesome than fighting vampires. After the turgid first minute, whose musing on fate and history wanders  too far afield, it seems that Lincoln is finally owning up to what it has long been expected to be: more of a backroom political drama than a war movie or sweeping biopic. That may sound dull, but here as these great actors throw elbows to jostle for power, the legislative sparks really fly—especially when they’re underlined with a little John Williams brass and timpani. After Day-Lewis famously demonstrated in 2007 that he could make an explanation of drainage into an iconic scene, here he approaches what could be another milkshake moment.

Previously
Does Daniel Day-Lewis Sound Like Lincoln?
Trailer Critic: Lincoln

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. 

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