Mixed reaction to the shooting of 'Lincoln'
2½ hours and is full of old white guys with a lot of facial hair being very self-important while the black people do little more than look lovingly at Lincoln as he solves all their problems for them.
To a non- American Lincoln is the ugly side of costume drama partly because even the interior décor of the time was awful, all swathes of fabric and gee-gaws and baubles, and partly because the costumes of the time were so appallingly unattractive for both sexes. Downton Abbey it ain’t.
It is a terrible thing to see a man as beautiful as Daniel Day Lewis in one of those awful stovepipe hats. But, of course, he is the image of Lincoln – scarily so. And the audience loved Daniel, giving the film, in which he is virtually never off the screen, a gentle round of applause at the end.
For the rest of us it is interesting to watch a political drama which relies on pencils, telegraph operators and open fires as its up-to-th- minute technology. The film is set in the winter of 1864, and Daniel Day Lewis is occasionally seen wrapped in a variety of shawls.
And it is always nice to see smoking on screen when the actors actually inhale : David Strathairn, who plays secretary of state William Seward, and Jared Harris, who plays General Ulysses S Grant, both manage this very well.
The cast is first rate, although it is notable that all the best known actors are on Lincoln’s side of the house. Hal Holbrook plays Preston Blair, one of the founders of the Republican party. Holbrook is a wonderful actor, whatever he does, and strangely enough he once played Lincoln himself.
But none of this really matters when you consider the enthralled silence in which the film was heard. This is a seminal story in American history. It is grim viewing when you consider the jails currently crammed with African American young men, and all the other obscenities of racism that have been endured, and still endure, since Lincoln’s time.
But there is now also an African American president, about to enjoy his second term. There are quite a few knowing laughs in Lincoln about the unlikeliness of Negroes or women ever getting the vote; no one ever imagined a black president, who would take Lincoln as his role model, or one of them at any rate.