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Uncovering the Production Secrets Behind Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln’

“Lincoln,” directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Daniel Day-Lewis, is a historical drama that delves into the turbulent political landscape of the United States during the Civil War. Released in 2012, the film offers a glimpse into the final months of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency as he struggled to pass the Thirteenth Amendment, which would abolish slavery and end the war.

This article aims to provide an overview of the film and its themes.


The film opens in January 1865, with Lincoln in his second term as president, and the Civil War still raging. Lincoln is determined to pass the Thirteenth Amendment, which he believes will end the war and abolish slavery.

However, he faces opposition from both the Republican and Democratic parties, as well as from his own advisers who caution him against taking such a drastic step. Lincoln decides to push ahead with the amendment and enlists the help of Secretary of State William Seward to gather enough votes from the House of Representatives to pass the bill.

Seward employs unscrupulous tactics to secure the necessary votes, including bribes and political favors. Meanwhile, Lincoln’s personal life is in turmoil.

His wife, Mary Todd Lincoln (Sally Field), is struggling with the loss of their son, Willie, and Lincoln himself is struggling with the weight of his responsibility and the toll that the war has taken on him. As the vote on the amendment draws near, tensions rise and Lincoln is manipulated by his advisors into making a deal with a group of Confederate politicians to end the war.

Lincoln agrees to meet with them in secret, hoping to bring an end to the conflict and secure the necessary votes for the amendment. However, the plan fails and Lincoln is forced to resort to more underhanded tactics to secure the necessary votes.

The film ends with the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, and a scene showing Lincoln leaving the White House to attend a play, foreshadowing his tragic assassination just a few weeks later.


The film explores several themes, including the tension between idealism and pragmatism, the struggle for power and control, and the personal toll of leadership. Lincoln is portrayed as a politician who is willing to compromise his ideals in order to achieve his goals.

He is not above using underhanded tactics, such as bribes and political favors, to secure the necessary votes for the amendment. However, he also holds strong beliefs about the importance of ending the war and abolishing slavery, and is willing to take great risks to achieve these goals.

The film also depicts the struggle for power and control within the government, as both the Republican and Democratic parties jockey for influence and seek to undermine each other. There is also tension between Lincoln and his advisors, who have their own agendas and ideas about how to achieve their goals.

Finally, the film explores the personal toll of leadership and the weight of responsibility that comes with it. Lincoln is shown as a man who is plagued by doubt and haunted by the loss of his son.

His marriage is strained and he is constantly under immense pressure from both his duties as a president and his personal beliefs.


“Lincoln” is a compelling and poignant film that offers a fascinating glimpse into the turbulent political landscape of the United States during the Civil War. The film explores several themes, including the tension between idealism and pragmatism, the struggle for power and control, and the personal toll of leadership.

With incredible performances from Daniel Day-Lewis and Sally Field, “Lincoln” is a must-see for anyone interested in American history or political drama. “Lincoln,” the 2012 historical drama film tells the story of the final days of President Abraham Lincoln’s life and his push to pass the Thirteenth Amendment to abolish slavery.

The film is directed by Steven Spielberg and stars Daniel Day-Lewis in the lead role. The movie is a character study of Lincoln during his presidency and reveals the challenges he had to overcome to enforce social change in his country.

The movie is set in 1865, at the height of the Civil War, during which Lincoln worked tirelessly to unite his country. The plot of the film revolves around Lincoln’s efforts to pass the Thirteenth Amendment, which would abolish slavery, end the war, and preserve the union.

The film opens with a bloody battle during the Civil War, as the Union Army fights the Confederate Army. It is a time of great turmoil in America, and Lincoln’s presidency is in crisis.

The stakes are high, and Lincoln believes that the passage of the amendment is crucial to the Union’s victory in the war. Lincoln’s first challenge is to unify the members of his own party, the Republican Party.

Some of the members oppose the Thirteenth Amendment because they believe that it goes too far and infringes on the states’ rights. Lincoln’s chief ally in this effort is his Secretary of State, William Seward, who is tasked with getting enough votes from the House of Representatives to pass the bill.

Seward acts as a shrewd political operative, making deals and using every possible lever to get the numbers required. The battle for the Thirteenth Amendment’s passage is then taken to the floor of the House of Representatives.

Democrats and other opponents of the bill use every parliamentary device to delay the vote. Lincoln realizes that he must undertake unconventional methods to persuade members to vote for the amendment.

He uses his legendary gift for storytelling to relate his childhood memories of slavery, explaining the moral and historical necessity of ending the practice. Slowly, the tide begins to turn in Lincoln’s favor.

Members of Congress begin to understand the urgency of the moment and the bill draws nearer to the necessary vote. Meanwhile, another thread of the story shows Lincoln’s personal and family life.

Lincoln’s wife, Mary, is plagued with the death of their son, which makes her fragile and emotionally unstable. Lincoln himself is tired, withered, and worn down by his position and responsibilities.

Several times throughout the film, the viewer sees Lincoln deal with the weight of his burdensome office. He faces immense pressure from his family, his advisors, and the nation, which weighs upon him as he strategizes and works to end the war and end slavery.

As the vote on the Thirteenth Amendment draws near, Lincoln faces resistance from both his own allies as well as the opposition. He realizes that he has to look beyond his own party to secure the necessary votes for the bill to pass.

To achieve this, Lincoln and his political agents initiate private conversations with Democratic members from the South. They work to get the Democrats to abstain from voting on the bill, and in doing so, empower the amendment.

In conclusion, Spielberg’s “Lincoln” is a film that contains all the elements of a great political drama. The film explores the themes of power, corruption, and morality so ingrained in American democracy.

As we follow Lincoln and his cohorts as they push the Thirteenth Amendment through Congress and face different challenges, the film showcases the political process and the inner workings of it. The plot gains its strength largely from Daniel Day-Lewis’ forceful performance as Lincoln.

Without a doubt, the plot is instrumental in making “Lincoln” one of Spielberg’s best movies and the finest representation of the tail end of Lincoln’s life and works. “Lincoln,” the 2012 historical drama film directed by Steven Spielberg, takes audiences on an enthralling journey through the final days of President Abraham Lincoln’s life and his struggle to pass the Thirteenth Amendment to abolish slavery.

However, behind the gripping plot and powerful performances by lead actors Daniel Day-Lewis and Sally Field, lies a story of the film’s production. It is a tale of meticulous research, a desire for historical accuracy, and a perfect balance of film production techniques used to bring one of America’s most iconic figures to life.

The film’s scriptwriter, Tony Kushner, did extensive research on Lincoln before penning the script. He did so to accurately capture the nuances of the era and the difficult political climate, which Lincoln had to navigate.

Spielberg also wanted to ensure the authenticity of the film’s costumes, sets, and props. He worked with renowned historians and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum to ensure that the actors and crew portrayed the time and its characters accurately.

The production team built all the sets and costumes from scratch, and careful research went into them. Men’s suits, female silhouettes, hair, and accessories were modeled on people from photographs of the time.

The death masks of Lincoln were meticulously researched and replicated for detailed accuracy.

The team also scouted locations across Virginia and utilized places such as the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond, the Old House of Delegates Chamber within the state capital building in Petersburg, and the Hollywood Plantation in Charles City County.

These locations were changed with period-appropriate apparels, furniture, and adornments. The film’s cinematography was a nuanced harmony of lighting, movement, and color.

Spielberg, under the guidance of the Director of Photography, Janusz Kaminski, displayed the scenes in a way that transported the audience back to the mid-19th century. Dialogue-heavy scenes, such as the ones that were held between Lincoln, his cabinet members, and advisors, were presented through alternating two-shots and single person medium-close-up shots, which broke it up to keep a loyal audience.

While the film was shot digitally in the modern era, the filmmakers used a variety of in-camera techniques to enhance its visual appeal. Like a vintage portrait, Kaminski and Spielberg worked to create a warm, amber-tinted image that gave the movie an authentic Civil War-era flavor.

Finally, the music of the film played a crucial role in creating the mood and ambiance of Lincoln’s presidency. Spielberg connected with composer John Williams to score the music for the film.

Williams composed a score of fanfares and strings that lent emotional dynamics to the scenes. The music married the sense of hope, despair, and urgency which made the plot come to life and allow for viewers to experience and feel a particular emotion.

In conclusion, Lincoln’s production was a culmination of hard work, meticulous research, and a passion for historical accuracy. All of these elements helped create an immersive film experience that made the audience feel like they were in the thick of the Civil War-era political climate.

Combining the research with the movie’s cinematography and music, Spielberg and his team were able to bring to life one of America’s most celebrated leaders and showcase his struggle to bring the nation together. The hard work paid off as the film was met with critical acclaim, grossed over $275 million worldwide, and Daniel Day-Lewis was awarded an Academy Award for Best Actor.

“Lincoln,” directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Daniel Day-Lewis in the lead role, was released to critical acclaim in November 2012. The film was a box office success, grossing over $275 million worldwide.

This section will cover the film’s release, its reception, and its impact on audiences and movie critics worldwide. The film was released in the United States in November 2012, just weeks after President Barack Obama’s re-election.

This timing put a spotlight on the political climate of the country and generated significant media coverage for the film. The movie was released in 3263 theaters across the United States and grossed over $21 million on its opening weekend, becoming a box office hit in its first week.

Critics praised the film for its compelling storytelling, its historical accuracy, and its exceptional performances. Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance as Lincoln was critically acclaimed and widely recognized.

The actor received numerous accolades for the role, including the Academy Award for Best Actor, the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor, and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role. Sally Field, who played Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, was also praised for her performance.

The film was also recognized for its cinematography, art direction, and costume design. The movie won the Academy Award for Best Production Design, Costume Design, and Best Sound Mixing.

Additionally, the film was nominated for several other Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Editing. The impact of the film extended beyond its critical and box office success.

“Lincoln” sparked a renewed interest in the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War era. Educators used the movie as a tool for teaching students about the history of this significant moment in American history.

The film became an instant classic, used for educational purposes since its release. The film’s impact also spread globally, with people from all around the world praising the film’s historical accuracy and performances.

It showcased the importance of hope, strength, human values, and the positive influence one person can have on the world. It also embeds the hope for improvement in oneself and in our social interactions.

Finally, the release of “Lincoln” brought more attention to the relevance of historical dramas. It showcased how narratives revolving around historical events can be entertaining and informative.

Since the 2012 release of “Lincoln,” other historical dramas have also gained widespread success and acclaim. This includes films like “12 Years a Slave,” “Argo,” and “Bridge of Spies.”

In conclusion, the 2012 historical drama “Lincoln,” directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Daniel Day-Lewis, was a critical and box office success.

The movie garnered numerous awards and nominations for its storytelling and performances. The film’s impact extended beyond its release date and sparked a renewed interest in the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War era.

The movie is an example of the social and informative value of historical dramas, remaining significant for its intimate look at one of America’s greatest figures and showcasing the crucial worth in recording history. The soundtrack of Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” was created by the legendary composer, John Williams.

Williams’ score provided a powerful and memorable accompaniment to the film, which helped heighten the emotional impact on its viewers.

From the opening notes of the film, Williams’ music set the tone of the movie, invoking a somber and reflective mood befitting the story’s time and era.

The score features a blend of traditional American music elements and orchestral pieces. The themes in the soundtrack are woven into emotional moments in the film, providing both thematic continuity and even deepening certain scenes.

With its numerous themes in the score, the soundtrack presents a subtle and elegant use that listeners and viewers can only appreciate upon cinematic analysis and admiration. Spielberg called John Williams for the film score since his work with a conductor had always captured the necessary mood he wished to invoke with the movie.

As per William’s preference, the music presented a full orchestral sound with rousing brass fanfares, and emotive strings blaring throughout. This gave the score a sense of historical importance and grandeur, fitting for a story that deals with the fate of a nation.

The soundtrack also features two traditional military tunes of the era, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” and “Battle Cry of Freedom.”

The main themes in the soundtrack are two; titled, “The People’s House” and “With Malice Toward None.” The first is a fast-paced march with a strong trumpet melody that opens the film and plays an important role in the more fast-paced scenes. The opening theme highlights the film’s themes of power and political influence with the march-like drumming and the sharp horn tones that keep up the pace and feel of the film.

However, most outstanding is “With Malice Toward None,” which is a hopeful, emotional melody that underscores Lincoln’s humanity and sense of hope. Williams used the haunting melody of the tuba, giving it a melancholic, almost mournful, tone that invokes pathos in the viewer, which is emblematic of Lincoln’s life as a husband, father, and political leader.

John Williams also composed famous scores for other Spielberg movies such as “Jaws,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” and “Schindler’s List.” These scores are also recognized as some of the most beautiful pieces of their respective genre. The score for “Lincoln” is another remarkable piece of his legacy, with many saying his best work is on movies about American history.

In conclusion, the soundtrack for “Lincoln” provided a beautifully crafted score that enhanced the film’s storytelling and complemented its visuals. John Williams’ score was carefully designed, with two distinct themes that serve the film’s different modes and shift in atmosphere with ease.

The score captured the history and emotions of the time and transported viewers to a time and place that still has relevance today. John Williams’ work underscores orchestral music’s continued relevance and the impact that a moving score can have on a film audience.

The music is a testament to William’s fantastic skills, Spielberg’s capability to capture greatness in his film endeavors, and to Lincoln’s importance in American history. In conclusion, “Lincoln” was a highly successful film that garnered critical acclaim for its compelling storytelling, accurate portrayal of the era, and exceptional performances.

The film’s production team worked hard to ensure historical accuracy in every aspect of the film, from the sets and costumes to the music and cinematography. The movie’s release served as a reminder of the relevance and power of historical dramas.

With its timeless themes of hope, resilience, and human values, “Lincoln” will continue to inspire and captivate audiences for years to come. FAQs:

Q: What is “Lincoln” about?

A: “Lincoln” is a historical drama film that portrays the final months of President Abraham Lincoln’s life as he endeavours to pass the Thirteenth Amendment to abolish slavery in the United States while the Civil War is still ongoing.

Q: Who directed “Lincoln”?

A: “Lincoln” was directed by Steven Spielberg. Q: Who played the lead role in “Lincoln”?

A: Daniel Day-Lewis starred as Abraham Lincoln in the film. Q: What is the significance of “Lincoln” in American history?

A: The film functions not just as an

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