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The Kidd Vs. LINCOLN


I wonder if Steven Spielberg’s long-awaited LINCOLN would have worked better as a play, because for large bouts of the film’s bloated running time, that’s exactly what it feels like. Spielberg’s biopic of sorts about a specific period of time in the 16th President’s life carries with it the vibe of a stage production, relying on overacted character performances to convey certain archetypes for their real-life historical counterparts while lacking any clear vision of story as it tries to wedge far too much material quite sloppily into a plot line that has no real room for extraneous parts. Frankly, I’m a little disappointed that after all the excitement that came from the very idea of Spielberg doing a picture on LINCOLN and waiting those years for him to finally take on the subject, this is the film it amounted to… this is the best he could do.

LINCOLN focuses entirely on Lincoln’s struggle with the House of Representatives back in 1865 to pass the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, while at the same time fighting to bring an end to the fighting of the Civil War, thus beginning the process of healing the nation as a whole. Having been re-elected during these tough times, it’s quite apparent how much love and respect the American people had for their President, a fact Lincoln is often reminded of by his Cabinet, who beg and plead for him not to waste his power on an amendment that is sure to be defeated when he could do so many other things from his place in the Oval Office. However, this isn’t just a matter of using the abolishment of slavery as a tool to potentially end the war, threatening the Confederacy with it in the hopes that it’d force surrender. Slavery is an idea that Lincoln could never wrap his head around, unable to digest the fact that man could tolerate and accept inequality against their fellow man, and, as a two-term President, this is his opportunity to take on an issue that’s long troubled him. It’s not just about now either… but the effect such an Amendment would have on future generations in America.

Only Spielberg and writer Tony Kushner do a disservice to such a historic moment by cheapening it as being the emotional equivalent of a sports movie. Lines are clearly drawn between the political parties with Lincoln’s Republicans acting the part of heroes while the opposing Democrats might as well just be the hated Yankees or the Cowboys or Iceland or any number of villainous squads that have taken the field, the court, the ice, etc. Looking back in retrospect, it’s easy to see where one party was just on the wrong side of history here, but at the time, such a distinction wasn’t so clear, so for LINCOLN to paint it as so black and white really takes away from the history being lost in such an approach. It’s a shallow way to attempt to touch the emotions of the audience by disguising an eventual showdown on the House floor over the Amendment as this rah-rah moment. The history is very clear, so building the uncertainty of the vote with this false tension feels forced and contrived for cinematic purposes.

Daniel Day-Lewis is what absolutely makes LINCOLN as good as it is, which is still only average at best, morphing into the late President with a subtle and very naturalistic performance. While the cast around him acts like their historical figures, Day-Lewis simply becomes his. And that lends to this idea that LINCOLN often times feels like a play. When your lead is so good that you can absolutely envision him as the character he’s portraying, it makes everything else look like an over-dramatization. Every moment his Lincoln is on-screen, Day-Lewis absolutely commands the movie, and gives you insight into the adoration citizens had for Abraham Lincoln… because watching him operate, you develop an adoration for him, too. All eyes are on him as he relays another anecdote or delves into another story or lays the foundation for another joke, and you’re left hanging on his every word, because he embodies that certain “It” that all great leaders have. You get a sense of the frustration he’s feeling as he puts his heart into combating this institution of America at the time that he so strongly opposes. And as the film wears on, you start to see some cracks in his strong façade, dealing with the issues that have impacted his family and his marriage over the years.

But it’s in those instances where LINCOLN really feels as if it is trying to do too much. With all of the attention of the film being paid to this fight over the Amendment and movement towards peace between the North and South, there’s really no room at all for dealing with these family conflicts between Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd (Sally Field) or his son Robert (a criminally underused Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Those would have been fine aspects of Lincoln’s life to explore further if LINCOLN was that sort of biopic. However, making the choice to not have an expansive examination of the whole of Lincoln and to focus on this small window of his life and, more specifically, his political career, quick hitting into his personal affairs lacks any sort of emotional weight whatsoever. It’s hard to care about the man when the only portrait we’re giving to see is of the politician.

There are a number of small supporting roles that do warrant praise. The trio of James Spader, John Hawkes and Tim Blake Nelson as William Bilboe, Robert Latham and Richard Schell, secret operatives used by the President in order to secure the votes necessary for the Amendment’s passage, provide nearly all of the film’s lighter moments. And while they can be a bit too comical at times, it’s easily forgiven as they are stealing every scene in which they’re involved. Jared Harris brings forth another of the film’s much more realistic performances as Ulysses S. Grant. It’s a shame that we don’t see more of the battlefield in LINCOLN, because not only might it help raise the impact of the Civil War throughout the film by seeing the toll it is taking on the country but it would have meant more of Harris’ Grant. I’d sign up to watch a Grant biopic with Harris in the role with the quickness, as LINCOLN didn’t do nearly enough with this wonderful yet incredibly small role.

LINCOLN is a Civil War in and of itself. Basically, there’s Daniel Day-Lewis… and then there’s the rest of the film. It would be unfortunate not to observe such a master at work with his craft, but seeing Day-Lewis’ incredible turn as Lincoln means actually sitting through the rest of LINCOLN. The actor again makes another film worth the trouble, but know that in order to take it in, you’re in for what is sure to feel like a very long ride. 


-Billy Donnelly

"The Infamous Billy The Kidd"

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Readers Talkback
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  • Nov. 9, 2012, 11:09 a.m. CST

    Oh wait...

    by gdprof27

    let me put on my look of shock! a-WHAAAAA?

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 11:10 a.m. CST

    Should have gotten Tom Cruise.

    by gruemanlives

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 11:12 a.m. CST

    And Steve McKenna is in it too..

    by Baron Karza

    Pleepleus !

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 11:14 a.m. CST

    Had a feeling LINCOLN could turn out this way...

    by Lucky13

    (overly preachy stage play type flic) But Kidd is the first reviewer I've seen to even hint that it isn't perfect, let alone blast the movie like he did. Curious to see this.... might have to be on BD though.

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 11:18 a.m. CST

    It has a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes.

    by eric haislar

    So yeah I am still seeing it.

  • Did anybody care? NO.

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 11:26 a.m. CST

    I told you it's a terrible movie

    by Dan Tran

    Spielberg can't make a good movie anymore. He lost his mojo eversince Schindler's List.

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 11:29 a.m. CST

    Another scathing and well written review here...

    by Fish Tank

    Ultimately I make my mind up as I see the movie, but these could all be good points (and would love to see if The Kidd agrees)

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 11:31 a.m. CST

    Jesus Christ, Kidd, you are shallow

    by AlienFanatic

    I swear, EVERY article by a professional critic (you know, one who doesn't have to use an alias on a fan blog) has lauded the dialog and the historical context of the film. The performances by folks like Field, Haley, and Jones have been lauded for their nuanced performances. Perhaps the only consistent criticism has been that the movie should have ended just after or slightly before the assassination (oh, oops, spoiler alert), but that's it. Kidd, stick to re-typing stories from other sites, telling us virtually every movie sucks, or defending reviews of chick flicks (because they pay AICN's bills), but reviewing top-tier, oscar-worthy films isn't your forté. Ugh. I used to like Kidd's productivity on AICN, but this "review" really made me question his competency to do anything else but regurgitate the news with a little edginess.

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 11:32 a.m. CST

    Rotten Tomatoes means a lot but not everything

    by Rupee88

    I think they loved Crash and American Beauty as well..both probably above 90% and both not very good. I hope Lincoln is entertaining even if not great.

  • That way, it's as though you have a surrogate in the theater, acting on your behalf. That said, I try to read a variety of critics because I simply find their reviews interesting and occasionally informative. Ebert, though he seems far more lenient than he used to be, writes eminently readable reviews. Christy Lemire is also excellent. I find Morganstern irritating, but professional. But the vast number of RT critics elicit a, "And who are you?" response from me. The worst are, frankly, the movie blogger sites like this one or Berardinelli, Cinemablend, etc., where the criticism reads more like a Facebook post than something written by a true journalist. Scores are fun and all, but there is an awful lot of chaff among the wheat, so I tend to them with a large handfull of salt.

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 11:42 a.m. CST

    Everyone probably has a friend or knows someone like 'The Kidd'


    The guy who just hates everything.

  • Because afterwards I might be forced to actually agree with him.

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 11:51 a.m. CST

    @fish tank. Who?

    by AlienFanatic

    Once the story proper gets underway, the film improves none. Claustrophobic to the point of suffocation, a good eighty-five percent of the film takes place in dank and dour interiors during a time before electric power and, apparently, the sun did not shine through windows.

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 11:52 a.m. CST

    God, I hate it when the TB's cut off a nice rant...

    by AlienFanatic

    Oh well...not worth retyping.

  • His are the most consistently negative reviews I've chosen to read, with the exception of a very few, violent films like Dredd. Either he never gets to review the movies he prefers to watch, or he simply has very, very narrow tastes. I'm not saying Lincoln will be an excellent movie, but what I am saying is that he's defying a very significant consensus across a wide spectrum of movie critics. But hey, he's in good company with such luminaries as Cinemablend and the Newark Ledger-Starr (who?).

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 12:03 p.m. CST

    the Kidd is refreshingly opposite of Harry

    by animas

    which makes me suspect the unethical weasel pays him to be the opposite so the site appears balanced. but the Kidd is right most of the time...

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 12:05 p.m. CST

    Who the FUCK is "The Kidd"??? Where's Massa?

    by Ricardo

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 12:07 p.m. CST

    Give 'em hell, Kidd!

    by Pat

  • I see now.

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 12:26 p.m. CST

    Stop Trolling the Kidd...

    by DadeOrAlive

    He does WORK. Actually, alienfanatic instead of "proof reading", it would be better just hit DELETE.

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 12:26 p.m. CST

    I agree with backwardgalaxy here

    by Fish Tank

    Seriously guys... see the movie first. Is it a movie I want to see? Yes - absolutely - but I appreciate everyone's point of view, especially Kidd's "refreshing" takes. He loved Cloud Atlas, many other critics didn't. I'll see if he was "right" (whatever that means) when I've actually seen the movie.

  • The freeing of the slaves was largely a political move, yeah? I thought this was common knowledge? The rewriting of historical figures to have such modern-day views seems a little revisionist to me, but I guess that's to be expected in these times.

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 12:43 p.m. CST

    The Kidd likes shit movies and doesn't like good ones

    by shatners hairpiece

    Not sure how or why he got added to AICN's core writers. He can't write or critique a movie for shit.

  • just an utterly stupid as fuck thing to say

  • because they sure as FUCK haven't SEEN the movie, so, they COULDN'T know for themselves if it's any good or not

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 1:01 p.m. CST

    Does the Kidd like anything?

    by rev_skarekroe

    I haven't read all of his reviews, but every one I have looked at gives a mediocre score at best.

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 1:03 p.m. CST

    antonstark, 0/10 troll

    by dr sauch

    Dude, come on. The movie's trailers look overwrought and messy. Kidd confirms the film is overwrought and messy. This review has nothing to do with politics.

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 1:06 p.m. CST

    I agree 100%

    by Marcus

    I saw Lincoln last week at an advance screening and Kidd hit on every point that I thought about it too. He's absolutely right.

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 1:11 p.m. CST

    According to The Kids, Paranormal Activity 4 is better than Lincoln

    by thefreshestthing

    Actually, reading The Kidd's reviews, Paranormal Activity 4 is better than almost every movie in the past 2 years.

  • I mean seriously I question what the hell does this dude like? Oh yeah that's right mostly pretentious bullshit. But there's a simple fix simply do not read the Kidds wash rinse repeat reviews.

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 1:22 p.m. CST


    by shatners hairpiece

    Damn good question. I have stopped reading most of his posts. Quint and Nordling put out most of the best stuff on this site.

  • from other critics.

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 1:52 p.m. CST

    I love Kidd's reviews

    by Carmen A

    Sorry but he's honest enough for me. I sometimes disagree with his reviews, and then later I see the movie and walk away with the same impression. I just want more from Hollywood these days, and I think Kidd does, too. The other reviewers want something different, so they respond to that. Me, I'd like movies to be better, even the dumb ones like Battleship or John Carter. But Spielberg watering down history to make it more palatable? Of course. He did it with Amistad and Schindler's List, why not Lincoln? and unfortunately, he's gotten worse with age. I don't think this new Spielberg could ever make a JAWS these days because his sensibilities are so dulled now. No edge. I'll still see this because I am interested in the character, but at least I know I shouldn't expect it to reflect actual history.

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 2:04 p.m. CST

    Gee, didn't see this review coming...

    by Jay

    Near universal acclaim. Instantly called one of the best of the year. Best acted of the year by far. Intelligent. Dense. Etc. Think of a compliment, and you can bet Lincoln's been called it. Warhorse was criticized (By some) for being "too fake", "too set-up", "too fantasy-ish". And now that Lincoln is a grounded, character focused movie, it's been called "stagey", "too talky". Give me a fucking break... If there's one thing about the current gen of Spielberg whiners, it's that they can't make up their damn mind. When you watch his more lighthearted, fun movies, you claim it's not serious enough. When you watch his serious movies, you claim it's not fun enough. You want "blockbuster" Spielberg, yet you criticize him for his popcorn fair. And yes, I have seen the movie. Between this, Looper, The Master, Skyfall, Avengers, etc. It's been a pretty damn good year for interesting movies.

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 2:10 p.m. CST

    So this is where we are in the world today...

    by wildzero

    Where even slavedrivers and confederate scum need to be treated "fair and balanced". Well, in my world slavery was wrong. In their world, the abolitionists knew that slavery was wrong. I for one do not need to see Jefferson Davis reading a bedtime story to his troops to get a "fair" telling of the story. When it comes to slavery, the bad guys are pro-slavery, the good guys are anti-slavery. End of story. Are you seriously arguing for a more compassionate view of slavedrivers and racist vermin who made it their duty to ensure black men and women were recognized as less than human? Amazing that in the world today the right wing has become the PC police, whining for equal representation for every batshit idea out there. Kidd, I'm going to trust the 92% of reviews that tell me you're wrong.

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 2:11 p.m. CST

    Fair review, thank you Kidd.

    by MoistMuskyCamelToe

    Good to read your thoughts. As always, I'll decide if and when I see it. I like some but not all of Spielberg's movies, and I do find his dramas to be heavy handed.

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 2:20 p.m. CST

    Kidd, you need to see better theatre.

    by JumpinJehosaphat

    If your idea of a stage play is anything near what you've conveyed in this review, then you're seeing some bad live theatrical productions. That's no good! Get thee to a proper live production!

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 2:36 p.m. CST


    by Robbiemc9

    I haven't seen the movie but I like The Kidd's reviews too. The reality is that most movies suck today and the ones that don't suck are the ones that are brainless stupid fun. I pulled the plug on Speilberg after that airport movie with Tom Hanks. You couldn't get anything more smaltzy then that. I litterally had to turn it off when they all started clapping at the end as he left the terminal. You could predict each beat 20min before it happened. As bad a Lucas is it shits me when people blame him for Indy4. Speilburg directed the fucker!!!!

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 2:58 p.m. CST

    Just seems like paying for school...

    by Homer Sexual

    I mean, of course we all paid for college, but I can't bring myself to pay for a lesson, unless it's going to get me a promotion or something like that. I might watch it on TV but it just doesn't sound like a fun night out. Not that Im opposed to serious movies, this just seems like, well, paying to be taught a lesson I already know.

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 3:06 p.m. CST

    Also, how dare the Kidd not like a movie that most other people do?

    by Homer Sexual

    Shame on him! How dare he form his own opinions? What is wrong with him! Kidd, jump on the friggin bandwagon NOW! AMERICA! Land of the free!

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 3:27 p.m. CST

    Anybody see this yet?

    by L.H.Puttgrass I guess Tom is gonna kill somebody? or some... thing?

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 3:34 p.m. CST

    I can't give Lincoln an up or down vote since I haven't seen it.

    by L.H.Puttgrass

    But the trailer does seem to scream, Hey, Oscar! Look what I can do! Look at me!! Haven't seen it. But that's the vibe I'm getting.

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 3:37 p.m. CST

    The Kidd vs. Lincoln or Skyfall...

    by GunterMonkey

    Either one, he'd get his butt kicked pretty bad.

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 3:39 p.m. CST

    The Kidd vs. mainstream popcorn cinema...

    by GunterMonkey

    Whoever wins, we all lose.

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 3:46 p.m. CST

    ...relying on overacted character performances...?

    by Itchypanda

    I saw this last night in Burbank, CA and I couldn't disagree more. Yes, the focus of the story was the political shenanigans Lincoln and his fellow Republicans had to accomplish to pass the 13th amendment but in the periphery was Sally Field's never-ending bereavement of her son, Willie; Lincoln's son, Robert, wanting to join the Union army as the battles get bloodier and running into every black person imaginable (soldier, freed slaves, white house employees, family friends, etc.) without thinking of them as anything less than human beings while the white constituency around him can't stand the thought of them as neighbors, freed or not. The movie was about how Day-Lewis' Lincoln coped with all of this while trying to pass the amendment. I almost felt that Spielberg was hinting that his mental and physical were beginning to fail him as he makes the last, fatal walk down through the White House hallway to catch the coach that would take him to the Ford Theater. The movie was brilliant, sometimes a bit over-arching, but Daniel Day-Lewis keeps the calamity together.

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 4:24 p.m. CST

    Hey Mr. The Kidd, if you don't like movies, don't watch them.

    by Mr. Pricklepants

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 4:32 p.m. CST

    Don't think I'll ever watch this movie.

    by JP

    Looks like a chore to sit through, and it probably is.

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 4:37 p.m. CST

    What a shocker....

    by TheMovieLover

    ... The Kidd doesn't like another film. You're the Armond White of AICN.

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 4:45 p.m. CST

    Man, The Kidd really ASSASSINATED this movie.

    by Samdroid

    I'll see myself out.

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 5:21 p.m. CST

    It was Black and White!

    by ViktorBC

    What are you offended because they were Democrats looking like villains? They were a very different Democrat back then. The seed of the modern Democratic Party was there, but they were different as well. This is as opposed to the Republican Party which is stuck in a rut. Remember, the KKK was formed to be anti-Republican, not anti abolitionist. Even to this day the vast majority of KKK members are Democrats. This of course does not reflect the consensus of the Democratic Party, but it is a reminder of how it was back then. Get your history right. You're movie reviewer, NOT a historian.

  • You know, the one truly negative Metacritic score (50) came from Rex Reed, who used some of the same pejoratives, such as "bloated" in his review. And the statement, "... but at the time, such a distinction wasn’t so clear..." demonstrates Billy's ignorance of historical context. The lack of objectivity is the primary reason that mots historians consider that it takes a MINIMUM of fifty years after a historical event before historians can put the events into context. Of course the Democrats at the time didn't recognize their demagoguery, inasmuch as modern-day Republicans have difficulty recognizing some of their errors. It takes time, and shifting social perspectives, to be able to look back on an event with impassivity. I can't disagree with Billy's review itself, simply because I haven't seen the film. I find that I often dislike Spielberg's almost superficial take on events, as if he stands outside the scene without investing it with the emotional heft I would like to see. However, in my other comments I am simply taking Billy to task for his consistently negative reviews, ESPECIALLY in regards to films that seem to fall outside his areas of interest. (He loves violent, futuristic movies like Looper, Dredd, and Cloud Atlas, and despises almost anything else.) I am simply questioning why it is he's consistently asked to review movies when it's almost a given that he'll hate anything outside his comfort zone. I really, really miss Massa, Quint (Jesus, man write some damn reviews!), and even the old Drew, though I suppose I could go over to Hitfix and read his review, which is FAR more positive, detailed, and informative.

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 6:35 p.m. CST

    Haha, yeah. Slavery wasn't a "black and white" issue...

    by Roy Hobbs

    Oh, wait, that's exactly what it was.

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 6:36 p.m. CST

    krinkle is right

    by MovieGeekBlog

    The Kidd should learn to sit down and enjoy his movies instead of acting as if he was going on a battle. As far the Lincoln, I'm seeing this tomorrow, so I'll let you know soon. check out my moviegeekblog if you are interested.

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 7:15 p.m. CST

    Here's a polar opposite review...

    by bruce Guess its somewhere in the middle. I'll be seeing it and probably enjoying a great acting performance by DDL yet again.

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 8:16 p.m. CST

    Saw it the afternoon and loved it!

    by SifoDyasJr

    It's not an action movie. There are no vampires or spinning axes. And there's a lot of eloquent, educated language to follow. I can see why Kidd might have a tough time with it. Daniel Day-Lewis brought Lincoln to life in a way that I never really expected and completely enjoyed. Start engraving the Oscars now.

  • The movie isn't called "Grant" Kidd, it's called Lincoln. And I've seen and read enough about the civil war to know of it's horrors, and i'll bet most people going into this movie do as well. I don't need hollywood glorifying yet another historical war, for the sake of adding more action scenes.

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 8:31 p.m. CST

    Avoid any movie that ends in a number

    by Kyle DeMattio

    I had to find that out the Hard Way!

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 10:48 p.m. CST

    Probably accurate

    by Jared Bond

    I don't like Spielberg's cinematography/ production design. As this guy says, part of the reason it feels like a stage play is because of the phoney lighting.

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 10:51 p.m. CST

    Spielberg, eh? So the Confederates are re-written as Nazis?

    by Sam Lloyd

  • Nov. 9, 2012, 10:55 p.m. CST

    Would Lincoln have let his daughter bang a black man?

    by Ironhelix

    FUCK NO he wouldn't have, and neither would ANY white man back then. Even to abolitionists, Africans we human ONLY to a certain point. When I see movies like this that totally rewrite history, it makes me want to fucking puke.

  • and it sickens me to see how history shaped itself to fight over such a trivial matter of great importance. I was playing assassins creed 3 today (SPOILER ALERT!!!) and towards the end of the game while the revolutionary war is over Connor who is straight white/british and native american who fought for freedom and helped george washington kick the british out turns around and sees slave traders selling slaves like it was nothing. the look of disgust on his face said it all... I' was plenty of disgusted too... (THAT'S WHY I SHOT AN ARROW THROUGH HIS DAMN NECK! lol) And i imagine in real life lincoln was upset as well...

  • Nov. 10, 2012, 12:52 a.m. CST


    by positivelySlime

    Hadn't seen The Kidd here in a while. Was hoping that AICN had gotten rid of him...

  • Nov. 10, 2012, 1:27 a.m. CST

    Watched the world premiere last night for the AFI closing film

    by Levi Tinker

    my two favorite performances in the Film James Spader, and Tommy Lee Jones.

  • In fact, it was an african country, Mauritania, which ws the last to officially abolish slavery at least in law, and that happedned in the 1980s. Slavery is not just a matter of black vs whiteys, i'm affraid. Firs tof all, how you think the whiteys of yore got the slaves? You think they were hunting them themselves? No, it was blacks who enslaved balcks then sold them to the whiteys. Black slaveryhappened with the connivence of other blacks. Sad but true. Also, blacks weren't taken as slaves because they were blacks. Such race considerations were minors to non-existent in the issue of slavery back at the time. Race issues were actually augmented AFTER the emanecipation. The reason blacks were taken as slaves were their easy availability, and that started in the late 18th century. Before, in the americas, the prefered slave was the indians. And overall, the prefered slave was in fact chineses. The blacks became the most accepted slave because it was easily available thanks to the local regional black african kings who sold their fellw blacks at good prices. So, all this started because it was favourable commerce. The whiteys justified the use of black slaves not because of issues of race but because it was economical and they could justify the enslavement with religious justifications, since all slaves were african animists, meaning, pagans to christian eyes, so to enslave them was to take them away from "pagan devilry" and bring them into christian fold. They literally believed they were doing the christian thing. The most important thing to consider is that the people of yore didn't think things like we do today.

  • Nov. 10, 2012, 6:59 a.m. CST

    Slavery was ONE of the factors of the Civil War

    by HypeEndsHere

    But in our multiple-choice test education system, we've really dumbed ourselves way the fuck down. Tick the box: Good/Bad Black/White etc.

  • Nov. 10, 2012, 7:32 a.m. CST


    by whatevillurks

  • Nov. 10, 2012, 9:02 a.m. CST

    theroadwarrior ... come on now

    by MurderMostFowl

    Saving Private Ryan Minority Report Munich Catch me if you can You didn't think any of those were worthy? Sure he's put out some bad films that don't live up to the hype... War of the Worlds and Crystal Skull being the worst of the bunch IMHO But I think Spielberg's successes far outweigh his failures.

  • Nov. 10, 2012, 10:21 a.m. CST

    whatevillurks, I agree completely with that.

    by Tacom

    The average Confederate soldier was probably too poor to even own a slave but all the leaders and rich assholes all fed them this shit that they were all fighting for state rights and "Southern pride". Just like Lincoln had to tell people in the north they were fighting to "preserve the Union" because most Northerners were not going to fight and die over slaves.

  • Nov. 10, 2012, 1:37 p.m. CST


    by Norman Colson

    I know how the kings so the lower class subjects when the white man came to africa and traded with them. But it sickens me to know that for a people who fought for freedom for opression &taxation, they sought to oppress others and build america on their backs. I'm telling you Assassins creed was a deep game... lol

  • Nov. 10, 2012, 1:52 p.m. CST

    Tommy Lee Jones' hair

    by Henry Fool

    'nuff said.

  • Hipster douchebag.

  • Not good. Great. I won't even get into how shallow this review is. Still can't believe I read the following: 'Looking back in retrospect, it’s easy to see where one party was just on the wrong side of history here, but at the time, such a distinction wasn’t so clear.' Did I read that right? It wasn't so clear 150 years ago that slavery was wrong? Gimme a break. Were you expecting Spielberg to cast pro-slavery politicians in the same flattering light as abolitionists? Jesus Christ, that is a ridiculous comment. I'm no Spielberg apologist. I've seen all of his films and they range from the great (Jaws) to the above average (Minority Report) to the terrible (Hook). I genuinely disliked Tintin (no story) and War Horse (no reason for the movie to exist). But Spielberg deploys his significant talent in smart and measured amounts in Lincoln. Never overblown, relatively understated, often riveting, and deeply knowing about the people it portrays, it absolutely ranks with Jaws, ET, Raiders and Schindler's as among his best films. Make no mistake: Lincoln is not some boring civics lesson of a movie. It is never less than completely engrossing throughout -- a kind of political thriller with a you-are-there quality to it. It is deeply warm and funny, superbly written and acted. I hope people skip the film because of this terrible AICN review. A great film.

  • Nov. 10, 2012, 5:15 p.m. CST

    don't skip

    by Brian Hopper

  • Nov. 10, 2012, 5:34 p.m. CST


    by Ironhelix

    I think you are wrong Sir. The times were MUCH different then, and just because you thought slavery was wrong, didn't even mean you considered a black man "human". The revisionists have re-written history with modern sensibilities, but (like I posted above) Lincoln would have likely killed his children rather than see any of them marry an African.

  • Nov. 10, 2012, 5:53 p.m. CST

    @ironhelix Not gonna debate the history.

    by Brian Hopper

    Lincoln was on record as early at the 1840s as opposed to slavery, and if you read enough about him it's easy to see that in his public and private dealings he was an abolitionist. Some in the south even knew slavery was wrong on some level, but defended it because it was the source of the south's economic power. So this notion that people are looking back now and picking a side based on modern sensibilities, as if their was some kind of moral balance or equivalence between the two sides 150 years ago, is horse shit. And this is neither here nor there in regards to Spielberg's movie, which is extraordinarily savvy in the way it addresses the relationship between blacks and whites in the 1860s.

  • Nov. 10, 2012, 8:39 p.m. CST

    uhhhhhhh HOOK is about an 8 and MINORITY REPORT is about a 6

    by golden tribw

  • "Slavery is an idea that Lincoln could never wrap his head around, unable to digest the fact that man could tolerate and accept inequality against their fellow man" I stopped reading the review because of that statement. If you`re going to be discussing history, try to use facts. "If I could preserve the Union by freeing none of the slaves I would do it; if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union." - Abraham Lincoln

  • Nov. 11, 2012, 12:03 a.m. CST


    by The Infamous Billy The Kidd

    These aren't ideas I am just pulling out of nowhere; these are premises introduced by the film and its understanding of Lincoln.

  • Nov. 11, 2012, 3:24 a.m. CST

    Crowsteeth has a point...but so does Billy

    by Stephen123

    I have not seen the film so I can't really comment on it specifically. That said, many a biopic can do in different directions depending on what particular part of the subject's life or career the filmmakers want to emphasize. To therefore complain about a film going in one direction but not another is hardly fair. "The Gathering Storm", for example, was a terrific biopic of Winston Churchill--but maybe not if all you the viewer wanted to see was the Prime Ministerial phase of Winston's career, complete with aerial dogfights, tank battles, and lots of pretty explosions. Something similar could be said of Abraham Lincoln. Americans arguably tend to view Lincoln through rose coloured glasses. Indeed, I sometimes wonder how much many actually know of him--beyond the Gettysburg address, the assassination which ended his life, and vague notions of him having something to do with ending slavery in the US via the American Civil War? I mention that because the Kidd's review would appear to suggest that by focussing on one particular part of Lincoln's career Spielberg is focussing on Lincoln-the-National-Hero rather than Lincoln-the-Man (eg "because watching him operate, you develop an adoration for him, too"), which is no unlike the way many films approach Churchill. (In contrast, "The Gathering Storm offered a more warts-and-all perspective.) Hmm. Here's another view of the same person: "Lincoln's actions were often controversial, even among some Republicans, and his personal popularity waxed and waned with the fortunes of the Union armies." (;view=fulltext) The article that quote was taken from focusses on one of the more controversial actions Lincoln undertook: his (probably illegal) suspension of habeas corpus. That is to say, the man who fought the South and freed America's slaves was also responsible for interning dozens if not hundreds of NORTHERNERS without trial, including high ranking officials such as federal judges and members of Congress. Is that covered in the movie? I dunno, but a film which did explore that side of Lincoln's actions during the war would (probably) more likely be (a) a gritty, warts-and-all one; and (b) a film which focussed on Lincoln's efforts to save the union--as distinct from one about Lincoln-the-Heroic-Figure who freed America's slaves. In other words, when you are dealing with a complex individual like Lincoln involved in major events no one movie of any reasonable length can ever do complete justice to that person. I would say there was more than enough room for more than one Lincoln movie.

  • one of its many charms. Day-Lewis's Lincoln comes fully alive in the film, nailing him as an interesting mix of down-home storyteller and political sophisticate, possessed of a deep political and human intelligence, boundless warmth, and incredible personal courage and integrity. One of the most amazing things about Spielberg's Lincoln is that (due to its stellar screenplay) it actually gets fairly deep into the controversial legal, moral and political issues surrounding Lincoln and his presidency. There are several scenes in which Lincoln himself articulates the complex nature of the intertwined issues he's dealing with, such as states' rights, the limitations of the Emancipation Proclamation, his war powers, etc. I really was astounded at how dense the film is with complex political questions while still remaining intelligible. I say this unreservedly as a longtime Spielberg admirer (for Jaws, Raiders, ET etc.) who also realizes his capacity to misfire (Hook, Tintin, Always) or to semi-misfire (Saving Private Ryan, which transcends its so-so screenplay with a classic first half-hour and last hour, and rise far above its pedestrian elements due to its overall cinematic and moral force)... Lincoln goes on the short list of Spielberg's best films, and it is a great film.

  • Nov. 11, 2012, 10:12 a.m. CST

    sentimental spielbergisms

    by Hugh Gustavus

    will not be out for ages in australia, so i wont be able to see it yet. but, hopefully theres not too many moments where speilberg turns in his usual sentimentality and hollywood moments.

  • Nov. 11, 2012, 10:15 a.m. CST

    day lewis' height

    by Hugh Gustavus

    havent seen it yet, but do they get lincoln height right in the movie? as he was 6'4" in a time when the average height was more like five eight he would have looked like a giant. with daniel being only six foot are they able to pull off him being bigger than everyone else? That was my biggest concern when liam neeson dropped out and day lewis was cast. neesons height was perfect

  • A somewhat decent fare made great by a truly fearless and fantastic performance from the Irishman. Honestly, I would love to see Lewis just once venture into something truly commercial, like a Marvel film or even Star Wars, but given that it's never happened so far and Lewis doesn't seem to need or want that kind of career, you can't really blame him for not trying to be like Liam Neeson or Johnny Depp.

  • Nov. 11, 2012, 10:38 a.m. CST

    Day-Lewis towers over everyone in the movie. He seems really tall.

    by Brian Hopper

  • Nov. 11, 2012, 10:43 a.m. CST

    There are very few sentimental spielbergisms in the whole film.

    by Brian Hopper

    I've seen every Spielberg film so I can say this with certainty: Lincoln is his most restrained and austere film. That's a reason it's so great. He has to deploy all his other (significant) directorial skills -- framing scenes and shots, getting the correct pacing, directing actors -- without relying on stirring and sentimental moments driven by the John Williams score. There are literally only a few moments like that in Lincoln, and they felt earned to me. You can feel Spielberg hold himself back and let the story, characters and actors do the work, and the effect is very powerful.

  • Nov. 11, 2012, 11:24 a.m. CST

    The kidd doesn't like it...

    by Tanning Chatum

    I'm sure there were no preconceptions despite it being a Hollywood Spielberg film, right? I'd bet anything if it were the exact same film but made by an unknown director, kidd would consider it the best film of the year.

  • Nov. 11, 2012, 11:30 a.m. CST


    by Thunderbolt Ross

    Though I agree with your assessment in general, there is ample evidence that the race aspect of slavery grew during slavery, not after, in contemporary literature and even science. It's almost as if they knew it was wrong and had to build up a version of reality where it wasn't (ie, "these aren't actually full human beings so it's okay")

  • Nov. 11, 2012, 11:51 a.m. CST


    by Hugh Gustavus

    the kidd has the right to review a movie however he likes it, get over it. If u dont like it focus on a reviewer who has similar tastes than yourself. I personally like his style

  • Nov. 11, 2012, 7:54 p.m. CST

    That's Michael Richards as Lincoln, no?

    by BigTuna

  • :)

  • That would be worth the price of admission.

  • The derivation of the word slave encapsulates a bit of European history and explains why the two words slaves and Slavs are so similar; they are, in fact, historically identical. The word slave first appears in English around 1290, spelled sclave. The spelling is based on Old French esclave from Medieval Latin sclavus, "Slav, slave," first recorded around 800. Sclavus comes from Byzantine Greek sklabos (pronounced sklävs) "Slav," which appears around 580. Sklavos approximates the Slavs' own name for themselves, the Slovnci, surviving in English Slovene and Slovenian. The spelling of English slave, closer to its original Slavic form, first appears in English in 1538. Slavs became slaves around the beginning of the ninth century when the Holy Roman Empire tried to stabilize a German-Slav frontier. By the 12th century stabilization had given way to wars of expansion and extermination that did not end until the Poles crushed the Teutonic Knights at Grunwald in 1410. · As far as the Slavs' own self-designation goes, its meaning is, understandably, better than "slave"; it comes from the Indo-European root *kleu-, whose basic meaning is "to hear" and occurs in many derivatives meaning "renown, fame." The Slavs are thus "the famous people." Slavic names ending in -slav incorporate the same word, such as Czech Bohu-slav, "God's fame," Russian Msti-slav, "vengeful fame," and Polish Stani-slaw, "famous for withstanding (enemies)."

  • Nov. 12, 2012, 5:55 p.m. CST

    Lincoln freed the slaves to win the war.

    by gk1

    “I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will for ever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.” - Abraham Lincoln Charleston, Illinois on September 18, 1858

  • Nov. 12, 2012, 8:32 p.m. CST

    'Lincoln' is racial propaganda

    by andy

    The country just had a choice between Obama and the worst candidate of all time, and it was kind of a difficult decision. Thanks but no thanks. Too much stomach upset

  • Nov. 13, 2012, 9:42 a.m. CST

    Funniest talkbacks ever

    by oonagimaki

    What with people dissecting what makes a good review and who these critics really are..and newark star-ledger whats? Cinemablend and Bernardinelli being a bunch of nobodies--I love it..sure I've thunk it but I have too much testosterone to ever write it out in a talkback--thanks for the chuckles guys..err..ladies?