A Steven Spielberg film about the life of Abraham Lincoln always seemed like a no-brainer, and the first trailer for the biopic gives us everything we’ve come to expect from the director’s trips into the past. A soft John Williams score wells into an immediately recognizable theme, and there are certainly threads of “War Horse” here. But it’s Daniel Day-Lewis and his remarkable transformation into Lincoln that have elevated this film to becoming one of the most anticipated of the year.
We’ve watched the “Lincoln” trailer repeatedly and have broken it down into our five key scenes.
The Gettysburg Address
“We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
The trailer begins with the words that Lincoln is probably known best for, but they’re spoken by another. David Oyelowo, who plays Ira Clark, delivers those famous words as we’re left begging to see a good shot of Day-Lewis as Honest Abe. You may recognize Oyelowo since he’s had a recent slew of notable roles in films like “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and “The Help.”
Voice of a Leader
By the time we actually get around to hearing Day-Lewis speak as Lincoln, he’s off screen and easily mistaken for someone else. Day-Lewis’ interpretation of Lincoln’s voice is a far cry from both the deep tones of Daniel Plainview in “There Will Be Blood” and the one most of us probably imagine coming from the famous orator.
But this is Daniel Day-Lewis we’re talking about here. A performance from him is never arbitrary, and his Lincoln doesn’t break that mold. According to Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer (via Yahoo! Movies), Lincoln’s voice was slightly higher than most, so if you find Day-Lewis’ interpretation underwhelming, just remind yourself that it’s probably historically accurate.
This year has certainly been the year of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and we wouldn’t be able to claim “he’s in everything” if he didn’t make an appearance in “Lincoln.” Here, he’s got on his Union blues as Robert Todd Lincoln, the president’s first son and, sadly, the only one who lived to adulthood.
While JGL had the flashier 2012, Sally Field has had a bit of a renaissance this year with her great turn as Aunt May in “The Amazing Spider-Man” and taking on the role of the first lady for “Lincoln.” The role of Mary Todd appears to be a meaty one, so we look forward to a little more Sally Field before the end of the year.
The Man Behind the Myth
If one thing is clear about Day-Lewis’ portrayal of Lincoln from the trailer, it’s that his Abe is very much a man. The voice comes to mind first, but we also see him looking thin and pale at certain points, referencing Lincoln’s poor health during the later years of his life. It’s the kind of turn that will earn Oscar buzz based on a trailer, and for good reason.
Check out everything we’ve got on “Lincoln.”.