Lincoln is the story of President Abraham Lincoln’s battle to pass the 13th Amendment. The 13th Amendment outlawed slavery after the civil war. Not to be confused with the Emancipation Proclamation which was issued in 1863. It freed the slaves, but, didn’t outlaw slavery. The 13th Amendment closed the discussion definitively.

Story: Well, per usual, Spielberg did a commendable job telling this true story. It was very factual, very cerebral – lots of talking and speeches without calling for a speech. But, necessary and appropriate. The writers revealed a good look at how the political process can unfold leading up to a floor vote and the battle for compromise. Perfect timing leading up to another budget deadline between our Legislative and Executive branches.

Performances: Daniel Day-Lewis was spot-on as Abraham Lincoln. Sure to be an Oscar nomination. The word is that he completely gave himself over to the character – staying in character on set. I generally judge Oscar-worthy performances by if I forget who the actor is while I’m watching. Still can’t see Day-Lewis in the performance even in afterthought.

Also of note, Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln, Tommy Lee Jones as Republican party leader Thaddeus Stevens and James Spader as what we know today as a lobbyist. All three brought wit and spark and spirit to the characters – look for Oscar noms for one, possibly two – likely Jones and Field in supporting roles.

Visual: Don’t look for special effects or big, computer generated scenes. This film is one of substance and all substance. You will have to be alert, listening and paying attention. As mentioned earlier, there’s a lot of talking and conversation with a lot of detail and political process. Having confirmed that, the actual scenery was as accurate as expected for a film set in 1865. The costumes as well were 100% period.

Rating: Lincoln gets an A- from me. The volume of dialogue was very much a double-edged sword – it was a bit exhausting. But, without it, you can’t get the point. You just have to be ready, well rested and fully focused for 2 hours. The good part is that the 2 hours go by without notice.

But the most profound elements of this film lie in the conversations about black people. One forgets that it was well within proper etiquette to use the N word without anyone flinching. Even amongst otherwise kind people, black people were acceptably regarded as animals. It’s also a reminder that while the emancipation proclamation freed the slaves and the 13th Amendment outlawed slavery, separate but equal still lasted for another 100 years.

Painful to hear, painful to watch, but, necessary to keep the integrity of the story and the period. While the political process was outlined with perfection, remember the point of this film: Slavery and equality. Lincoln is a must see whether you decide to go to the theatre or see it on DVD.