Lincoln, Oscar Winner Released on Blu-ray (Video Review)



The film Lincoln, nominated for 12 Academy Awards, has come to Blu-ray.  The movie provides a look at how politics changed the United States in the final months of the 16th President’s life.  It’s a dark boding story that takes you into the heart of a historical political debate, a congress divided and a family being pulled apart by civil war. If you like films with educational substance, excellent acting and dark cinematography, it’s now available in a 4 disc Blu-ray combo pack for home viewing.

The Civil War in America continues to drag on with over 600 thousand casualties and there doesn’t seem to be an end to the continental dispute.  Republican President Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis) finds himself getting close to an amicable exit plan to the war, but he wants to tack on a slavery emancipation bill. It will take major compromise on the part of the Democrats in order for Lincoln to win.  While the Republicans are pro abolition of slavery and start rumors that this would help end the war, the Democrats stand staunch against having their slaves freed.  They cite several reasons including that it could lead to damaging rights like allowing voting and citizenship for the liberated black race.

Needing two-thirds vote of the House of Representatives, a branch of Congress that’s nearly equally divided between Republicans and Democrats, Lincoln pressures his leaders to do anything they can to get the 13th Amendment to the Constitution passed.  Bringing the amendment to the floor happens to be a challenge, but getting the necessary vote to ratify the Amendment looks daunting. The Democrats are dominating the soap box with slurs and damnation trying to intimidate their opposition on the floor of the House.

Fighting for the Democratic side is New York Congressman Fernando Wood (Lee Pace) who takes the position on slavery of the Southern Confederacy.  Extremely vocal in opposition to the Amendment, his fellow Representatives cave at his esteemed elocution. With Pennsylvania’s Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones) a radical Republican and three lobbyists, Lincoln sets up a plan to win over the necessary votes needed for ratification. But it would not be easy with time running short and the odds against them winning considered nearly impossible.

Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln with his cabinet

The acting by Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln provides a grim and worn out leader who holds strong during one of the most trying times in American History.  Cunning, impatient and obsessed, his Lincoln portrays a man determined to win at any cost so he can end one of the bitterest wars while ridding slavery in a land built on Freedom.  Lewis certainly deserves high accolades for his performance and his recent Oscar win for Best Actor an award he truly deserves.

Other actors deserving recognition are Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln with a controlling performance showing Mary’s determination to protect her husband’s place in history.  Taking on a very pivotal role, Tommy Lee Jones makes his representative from Pennsylvania a shrewd bargainer and staunch articulate speaker without showing smugness that he holds the winning hand in more ways than one. Both Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones were nominated for an Oscar for the film.

The Blu-ray/DVD combo has some extremely good bonus features and I found the best and most captivating “Living with Lincoln”.  There is nearly an hour and 20 minutes of bonus material, all worth watching.

“The Journey to Lincoln”- In this short introduction to the movie Director Steven Spielberg and several other members of the production talk about how and why they brought Lincoln to the screen.
“A Historic Tapestry: Richmond, Virginia” Here Spielberg gives his reasons for shooting the film in Richmond, Va. in a short to the point featurette.  It also includes comments by Producer Kathleen Kennedy.
“In The Company of Character” this ten minute featurette goes into the acting within the film including Academy Award winner Daniel Day-Lewis’ portrayal of Lincoln, Sally Fields magnanimous performance as the feisty Mrs. Lincoln and other key players. I found this very interesting and consider it a must watch. My only disappointment is that it could have given more time to each of the actor’s roles.
“Crafting The Past” Having been a member of the crew on several films this special feature hits home with me.  All you historical nerds will love how the sets were designed making all the props look like they were collected from the past, costumes that resemble the era and other remarkable details. It only lasts about eleven minutes but the behind the scenes crew stuffs a lot into it. You can see why the film got the Oscar for Rick Carter’s Production Design.
“In Lincoln’s Footsteps” You’ll get to hear from John Williams who was honored by a nomination for an Academy Award for his musical score in Lincoln.  It also goes into the importance of editing and getting the right mood for the film.  The short also has comments by Spielberg, Kennedy and music editor Michael Kahn.
“Living with Lincoln” This featurette is my favorite of the bonuses and gets into how the film was shot.  Spielberg goes through the film step by step on how he shot the film so it would be as close to historically authentic as possible. It’s nearly a half hour long and due to its engrossing content feels like only a few minutes. This is an example of why bonus features are important to a film like Lincoln as you get first hand views of an amazing director.

The video presentation on the Blu-ray with 1080p HD Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 is clear and clean with a quantity of grain, mostly because it becomes necessary in some scenes. The texture of the film with the dark and dank weather, poorly lighted chambers and muddy battlefields gets a very good presentation on the HD screen.  The only distraction to me are the black stripes top and bottom due to the Aspect Ratio in the original filming and played on my 16×9 HD Television.  But, as with other films, the distraction dissipates as the movie gets played out.

The sound quality with the HD Master audio 7.1 provides an excellent medium for home video presentation.  The battle scenes were cringing and the special effects sounds of the skirmishes felt real.  Even the side talk, special effects and background noise can be clearly heard.  If you listen closely you can hear more of the emotion in the House of Representatives from the cross talk going on during debates.

FINAL ANALYSIS: The depiction of a great historical event and excellent acting make this film a must for any video library. (B+ )

Specifications and additional film information:

  • Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Hal Holbrook, Lee Pace and James Spader
  • Directed by: Steven Spielberg
  • MPAA Rating: PG-13 for an intense scene of war violence, some images of carnage and brief strong language
  • Genre: Biopic, Drama, Politics, Adaptation
  • Running Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Street Date: March 26
  • Original Theatrical Release: November 9, 2012
  • Language: English, French, Spanish
  • Format: Blu-ray, DVD
  • Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (DVD- 5.1 Dolby Digital)
  • Video: 1080p HD Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 (DVD- Widescreen 2.40:1 enhanced for 16×9 Televisions
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
  • Number of Discs: 4 Discs
  • Distributed by: Buena Vista Home Entertainment


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