Lincoln-- Don’t wait for the DVD

4 years ago

Lincoln-- Don’t wait for the DVD

my husband Rick and I rarely go to movie theaters—Netflix has made it just too easy to watch films at home. We were trying to remember that last time we had actually gone out to see movie and think it was the wonderful movie about Edith Piaf,La Vie en Rose, about 5 years ago.

The articles I had been reading about Lincoln made me think that maybe this one was worth the big screen and full attention it commands. And so it was.

As a grassroots political activist, I’m fascinated by politics and especially by the question of how much compromise can be justified in pursuit of worthy goals. So many candidates start out with high ideals and turn into sleaze bags. They always say that slimy tactics and dubious alliances were necessary to achieve lofty goals but was the slime necessary in pursuit of the greater good or for the candidates' personal advancement?? Not always so easy to disentangle this.

Some of the best reviews of the film are from political commentators (such as Tom Ferrick, Dick Polman, and David Brooks) who are usually not in the business of reviewing movies. The major take away from the political reviewers is that compromise / deal-making is what politics is always about and that Lincoln has a lot to tell us about the lost art of political compromise.

Ferrick “ would make attendance at this movie mandatory” for politicians.

Polman notes that if Lincoln “and that rat's nest [Congress] could get it together to end slavery, surely our current politicians can cut a deal that steers us away from the fiscal cliff. Come on, folks, do Abe proud.”

I’m not generally a fan of David Brooks , but he said it best:

We live in an anti-political moment, when many people — young people especially — think politics is a low, nasty, corrupt and usually fruitless business. It’s much nobler to do community service or just avoid all that putrid noise.
I hope everybody who shares this anti-political mood will go out to see “Lincoln,” directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Tony Kushner. The movie portrays the nobility of politics in exactly the right way.
It shows that you can do more good in politics than in any other sphere. You can end slavery, open opportunity and fight poverty. But you can achieve these things only if you are willing to stain your own character in order to serve others — if you are willing to bamboozle, trim, compromise and be slippery and hypocritical.

And anyone who thinks our current political climate represents a new low, viewing Lincoln should disabuse them of that notion.

I was struck by the power of leadership which took the long view, focused on what was necessary and was determined to achieve that goal. From Polman’s review:

[Lincoln] compares noble aims to true north on a surveyor's compass. True north is essential, he tells a congressman, but you also have to navigate "the swamps and deserts and chasms along the way" - however grubby the journey may be. If you can't do that, he asks, "what's the good of knowing true north?"

And thanks to Daniel Day-Lewis--who was born to play Lincoln--this was an incredibly moving film. But, for me, it would have been a much less satisfying, much less inspirational film, if the presidential election had turned out differently.

Karen Bojar blogs about retirement life, feminist activism,  grassroots politics and gardening at

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