Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
How Do You Solve a Problem Like Erika? Universal Hires Husband to Write 'Fifty Shades Darker' How Do You Solve a Problem Like Erika? Universal Hires Husband to Write 'Fifty Shades Darker' 'Age of Ultron' Director Joss Whedon on Self-Doubt and Why It's His 'Rio Bravo' 'Age of Ultron' Director Joss Whedon on Self-Doubt and Why It's His 'Rio Bravo' Watch: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, Patricia Arquette and Amy Schumer Hilariously Slam Hollywood Sexism (NSFW) Watch: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, Patricia Arquette and Amy Schumer Hilariously Slam Hollywood Sexism (NSFW) CinemaCon: How Tom Cruise Stole the Paramount Show CinemaCon: How Tom Cruise Stole the Paramount Show Meet the Director of 'Tangerines,' the 2015 Dark Horse Oscar Nominee You Missed (Exclusive Video) Meet the Director of 'Tangerines,' the 2015 Dark Horse Oscar Nominee You Missed (Exclusive Video) LA Film Fest Unveils Horror Slate, More World Premieres, Zoe Cassavetes Film LA Film Fest Unveils Horror Slate, More World Premieres, Zoe Cassavetes Film Cannes: Directors' Fortnight Lines Up Vet Auteurs and American Indies Cannes: Directors' Fortnight Lines Up Vet Auteurs and American Indies Joe Wright's 'Pan' Gets Fall Release Date: Good News or Bad News? Joe Wright's 'Pan' Gets Fall Release Date: Good News or Bad News? Seeing Ryan Gosling's 'Lost River' Through Composer Johnny Jewel's Eyes (STREAM SOUNDTRACK) Seeing Ryan Gosling's 'Lost River' Through Composer Johnny Jewel's Eyes (STREAM SOUNDTRACK) 3 Women Genre Directors Get SF Film Society Fellowships 3 Women Genre Directors Get SF Film Society Fellowships Here's Why Jon Stewart Quit 'The Daily Show' Here's Why Jon Stewart Quit 'The Daily Show' Watch: From Tarantino to Cronenberg, Great Directors Talk the Art and Anxiety of Filmmaking Watch: From Tarantino to Cronenberg, Great Directors Talk the Art and Anxiety of Filmmaking Specialty Box Office: 'True Story' and 'Child 44' Flop as 'Ex Machina' Lures Audiences Specialty Box Office: 'True Story' and 'Child 44' Flop as 'Ex Machina' Lures Audiences Tribeca Film Festival Matches George Lucas with Stephen Colbert: “I’m gonna tear you a new one, George" Tribeca Film Festival Matches George Lucas with Stephen Colbert: “I’m gonna tear you a new one, George" 10 Films Booed at Cannes That Every Cinephile Should See 10 Films Booed at Cannes That Every Cinephile Should See 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work The Eerie Connection Between 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' and 'Tomorrowland' The Eerie Connection Between 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' and 'Tomorrowland' Digging Into the Cannes Lineup: More Vet Auteurs and Women, No Netflix Digging Into the Cannes Lineup: More Vet Auteurs and Women, No Netflix You Can Now Read Over 200,000 Leaked Sony Emails and Documents You Can Now Read Over 200,000 Leaked Sony Emails and Documents 7 Things to Learn from 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner About Compelling Storytelling (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO) 7 Things to Learn from 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner About Compelling Storytelling (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO)

Immersed in Movies: Raising 'Kane' in 'Lincoln'

Photo of Bill Desowitz By Bill Desowitz | Thompson on Hollywood November 16, 2012 at 3:00PM

Steven Spielberg has always shown a reverence for Orson Welles and "Citizen Kane" with his trademark use of light shining through chiaroscuro-style. Not surprisingly, he uses it effectively in "Lincoln." Plus, there's an early nod to "Kane" with a close-up of Mary Todd Lincoln (Sally) through a mirror on the dresser.
0
Lincoln, window
'Lincoln'

Steven Spielberg has always shown a reverence for Orson Welles and "Citizen Kane" with his trademark use of light shining through chiaroscuro-style. Not surprisingly, he uses it effectively in "Lincoln." Plus, there's an early nod to "Kane" with a close-up of Mary Todd Lincoln (Sally Field) through a mirror on the dresser. It's indicative of the spatial divide between husband and wife, President and First Lady, while also linking them together spiritually. Indeed, the moment is a microcosm of what "Lincoln" is all about: repairing the great divide among people and a nation through a spiritual connection.

However, given its multi-layered exploration of an American legend and back to basics theatricality, I would argue that "Lincoln" represents Spielberg's "Kane." Not literally, of course, but as a cinematic model and as a sign of his great maturity as a director. After all, this is the first time that he's devoted a movie to such an important historical figure and built everything around such a commanding performance. But then Daniel Day-Lewis brings out the best in everyone, including the talented ensemble cast, which serves as Spielberg's Mercury Theater. No wonder Spielberg worked so diligently with screenwriter Tony Kushner to find the right angle (a political procedural about the battle over the 13th amendment to abolish slavery) with which to hook Day-Lewis. The result is like eavesdropping on the most tumultuous moment in our history while bringing the conflicted Abe closer to us.

"The other interesting thing is how at ease Tony and Daniel and Steven are with power, and how to express that power subtly and interestingly," suggests production designer Rick Carter, who considers "Lincoln" the culmination of his decade-long encounter with "the nature of conscience and the Goya-esque disasters of war." He cites "War of the Worlds," "Munich," "Avatar," and "War Horse" as the other prime examples.

"And I like that balance of being at ease with power in Lincoln. It's understated and overstated when it's time to rise up and use its full force. He's humanized yet remains extraordinary."

Most of Spielberg's movies are about the disruptive breakup of the family (especially as a result of the absent father), and he seems to have found its ultimate expression in "Lincoln." The tug of war for freedom is personal and political, intimate and epic, with the 16th President serving as the ultimate paternal symbol. With his folksy charm and penchant for dirty jokes and funny anecdotes, Lincoln is the great persuader and a sagacious storyteller.

This article is related to: Immersed In Movies, Lincoln, Steven Spielberg, Steven Spielberg, Features


E-Mail Updates