06:25

Lincoln

Is Daniel Day-Lewis's performance as Lincoln the greatest depiction of an historical figure ever? I have never seen better. He is Lincoln. The film has its faults, though the concept of focusing on only four months of Lincoln's life saved it from the fate of all other biopics - with the possible exception of The Last Emperor I have never seen a good one. Spielberg can never resist a quick bath in sentimentality and shmaltz - the opening scene where two black soldiers recite the Gettysberg address back to its orator is the most egregious of two or three scenes that had my teeth on edge.

But the central depiction of Lincoln himself is a wonderous thing, deeply moving and acting of genius. I read a lot of history and biography and the thing that is always missing - it can't be otherwise - is the physicality of the person described, the way they walk, the mannerisms, their voice and how they sit quietly in private. Then there is humour and charm, or even demonic charisma that dies with them.

I never saw Daniel Day Lewis once; only Lincoln. I understood the hold he had over his contempories, his humour, subtle intelligence, charm, steel, humanity and greatness. He was never a patrician but a man of the people - but clearly a human being above the common cut. I saw the loneliness of power and nobility of purpose allied with a lawyerly cunning and weary acceptance of the 'crooked timber of humanity.' It is acting that transcends its art, a unique privilege to have seen.

And my friend Joanna Johnston is nominated for an Oscar for the costumes - so well deserved.
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