Peggy Noonan: Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln’

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Peggy Noonan is a columnist for the Wall Street Journal.

Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” is not a great film, and people shouldn’t feel muscled, in the general approbation, into saying it is. But it’s a good one, which is always a surprise and delight these days, and it is good it’s being so widely appreciated. This is Hollywood taking history seriously, taking political history seriously, and even showing respect for politics itself. That should be encouraged.

The film has a dark palette. Spielberg got a little carried away with Victorian darkness, when even then they had a sun. The period detail, how people dressed and rooms looked, is exquisite, and must have cost a lot. The direction is somber, maybe heavy and slow. Sometimes when Spielberg is trying to show he’s serious it’s an awkward thing to witness. The screenplay seems like chunks of a longer and maybe better work that had to be edited down and jammed into a reasonable run- time. There is a lot of one-speech-after-another, one-bit-of-jammed-in-exposition-after-another. But the script meets the challenge of communicating, as theatrically as possible, complex political calculations that couldn’t be shown and had to be spoken....

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