Abraham Lincoln understood that neither the Emancipation Proclamation nor the end of the Civil War would be enough to abolish slavery; hence, the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution would have to be enacted in order to outlaw the ownership of slaves.
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Lincoln believed that ending the Civil War would not guarantee an end of slavery and believed a permanent legal solution would be necessary. Lincoln proposed adding the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but knew there would be political resistance to getting this law approved by Congress. The majority of the movie dealt with Lincoln’s struggle to get the 13th Amendment enacted and passed by the U.S. Congress. Much of the deal making to get enough votes to pass this amendment to the Constitution was well documented in Doris Kern’s book, A Team of Rivals and was incorporated into the script of the movie. What humor there was in this film was based on all the deal making tactics that Lincoln’s surrogates used to get various politicians to vote for the passage of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Spielberg’s Lincoln tried to show Lincoln as a real man, a realist and as a real politician. In a New York Times’ movie review written by A.O. Scott, the author says that “the legislative process-the linchpin of our system of checks and balances-is often treated with lofty contempt masquerading as populist indignation, an attitude typified by the aw-shucks antipolitics of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”. (N.Y.Times, A.O. Scott, November 8, 2012)
Roger Ebert, the movie critic, gave this movie a 4 star rating and I too would give the movie a high rating because of the excellent script written by Kushner, as well as the terrific cinematography done by Janusz Kaminski and good acting performances given by Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones and Daniel Day-Lewis. The movie is rated PG-13 and lasts for 149 minutes, which could be a little long for some children. Buy some popcorn and enjoy this legal thriller.