Stories of men and nations

Bribery and corruption are timeless. If it hadn't been that very cinematic seduction sequence via the reddest apple in Eden, man and woman would never have walked the earth, telling each other stories. Ergo, we would never have had the movies. And we wouldn't have been setting our alarms for 6 am Monday morning (February 25) to watch Daniel Day Lewis walk off, in all probability, with his third Best Actor trophy at the Oscars. His rendering of the most famous president in the history of the United States in Lincoln is a masterly performance: it shows an actor not just imitating mannerisms of a highly regarded historical figure, it shows a human being aware of his role in history without trying to be bigger than the moment, exhorting his people to get what he wants, by using whatever means they can.

Abraham Lincoln, as brought to amazing life by Lewis, obviously did not use those exact words. But that is exactly what he meant. In his steely determination to bring about an amendment to a far-reaching law (that which would lead to the abolition of slavery, and that which would determine the fate of the United States of America), he revealed he was a highly skilled political animal. Those colleagues that were ambivalent were to be corralled by offers of office: you give me your vote, and I will give you power. More than anything else, this revealing passage gives Steven Spielberg, also a twin Best Director winner and up for it again, a chance to prove that he can sidestep schmaltz, which he so often veers towards, to tell a clear-eyed, unsentimental story. No heavy-handed history lesson, just a man with ambition and vision and human failings and his equally charismatic wife (the excellent Sally Fields, up for Best Actress), and the state of a nation.

... contd.

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