The official trailer for Lincoln is here, and it brings with it all the majestic shots of Daniel Day-Lewis as the famous U.S. president, imagery of Union soldiers on the battle field, and dramatic pieces of dialogue that you might expect from a trailer for Steve Spielberg’s biopic (no vampires, though).
A Lincoln trailer preview dropped earlier this week, prompting discussion as to whether we were hearing Lewis recite a segment from the Gettysburg Address – or if it was a Union soldier speaking, as portrayed by David Oyelowo (Red Tails). We can now confirm that it was not, in fact, Lewis speaking. However, as you might’ve imagined, the two-time Oscar-winner’s “Lincoln accent” not only befits a more humanizing portrayal of the President, it’s also a far cry from any of Lewis’ more famously affected accents (Bill the Butcher in Gangs of New York, Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood).
Furthermore, Lincoln appears to be as visually arresting as any historical drama produced by Spielberg to date (which is really saying something). Surprisingly, the director previously described the film as less “visual” than his other cinematic forays into the past, since much of the story unfolds within the confines of darkly-lit Congressional halls and rooms around the White House where Lincoln worked tirelessly to formally end the Civil War (while passing the 13th amendment to the Constitution to abolish slavery).
Several of the important political players working either with or against Mr. Lincoln make a brief appearance in the trailer, including Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens, David Strathairn as William Seward, Jackie Earle Haley as Alexander Stephens, and Lee Pace as Fernando Wood, along with Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln and Joseph-Gordon Levitt as their son, Robert. In case you weren’t aware, Spielberg’s film is practically boiling over with award-winning talent.
On the more critical side: there is very much an “Oscar Bait” feel to the manner in which the Lincoln trailer is structured, with excerpts from grand speeches, the glorious dramatic atmosphere, and weightiness of the proceedings glimpsed. That said, it feels appropriate, given the significance of the events unfolding onscreen. Furthermore, the brief moments of acting on display feel less like awards-hopeful posturing and more like samples from genuine and grounded performances from all involved (not exactly a shock, when you consider the cast).
The trailer also features fewer of the hammy moments or corny beats that made the previews for Spielberg’s last film, War Horse, somewhat divisive; if that is reflective of the final film, then Lincoln could very well prove to be the respectful, yet refreshingly non-romanticized historical piece we’ve been hoping for.
Sandy Schaefer blogs at Screen Rant.