MOVIES - The movie "Lincoln" opened in theatres before Thanksgiving and is still drawing crowds. Wednesday night it was shown to members of the US Senate, who were granted special permission to enjoy popcorn with the movie at the Capitol Visitor Center.
Despite being produced and directed by Obama supporter Steven Spielberg, the film earned an enthusiastic thumbs up from conservatives and liberals alike. Daniel Day-Lewis' brilliant portrayal of Lincoln has hoisted him head and shoulders above any others in the running for next year's Best Actor Oscar. Sally Fields as Mary Todd Lincoln and Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens added to "Lincoln's" awe.
But far and above the actors' work was the moving presentation of Lincoln's tumultuous last months - from the devastating Civil War to his own intimate family strife and tragic assassination. Screenwriters Tony Kushner, John Logan and Doris Kearns Goodwin stayed focused on presenting Lincoln's amazing ability to handle trials with strength, dignity and grace, and the end results were unforgettable.
That is the film "Lincoln" members of the US Senate and their wives viewed Wednesday night. It was the third time Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was to see the movie, which, he said, he "loved."
“I hope everybody who shared his anti-political mood will go out there and see Lincoln," Reid said. "The movie portrays a nobility of politics in exactly the right way." Those words had to be welcomed by Spielberg and Day-Lewis, who also attended the Senate screening.
In November, Illinois US Senator Dick Durbin referred to the movie as he talked about the necessity for Democrat-Republican cooperation. However, Durbin's concern was not so much for an altruistic human rights result such as Lincoln's was in ending slavery, but more about the need for bi-partisan compromise to raise taxes on job creators and shut down any talks about substantial changes to unsustainable entitlement programs.
Indeed, "Lincoln's" portrayal of passing the abolition of slavery amendment was not complimentary to either side of the aisle. While Republicans were fully credited with pushing hard on Southern Democrats for votes to end American slavery, Republicans were not above "sausage-making," for its passage. Indeed, tradeoffs, honorary positions, jobs and campaign deals were a part of the process.
And all the while, the man Lincoln pushed past one obstacle after another, while learning daily amount the deaths of a mounting number of nation's next generation. The nation's economic and political situations were dire in 1865. In addition, he dealt at home with a mourning manic-depressive wife that weighed on his personal most private challenges - a sad commentary with which many in the public eye can identify.
Wednesday night Spielberg said he was honored to show his movie in the Senate and to see ”both sides sitting in the same room watching a president put the people out in front of the abyss.”
Already nominated for seven Golden Globe Awards, "Lincoln" will most certainly win numerous Academy Awards next year. It's a film with a message for viewers of any political persuasion - and reminds us all how pitifully leaderless the nation is today. It's an emotionally wrenching film, viewable for middle school age and older.