What it isn't is a straightforward biography, following Abraham Lincoln from his boyhood eagerly reading everything he could get his hands on through his entirely unexpected ascendancy to the U.S. Presidency. Despite the title, Lincoln is actually focused on a four month period during which Lincoln and his cabinet endeavored to pass the 13th Amendment.
As director Steven Spielberg himself explained, the film picks up at, “Lincoln’s realization that the Emancipation Proclamation, the thing he is most known for, was simply a war powers act that would easily be struck down by any number of lawyers after the cessation of hostilities after the Civil War. He needed to abolish slavery by constitutional measure — and that’s where we start.”
This UK trailer conveys that ably, setting up the horrors of the Civil War as a backdrop then showing off the murderer's row of supporting actors turning in fiery performances alongside two-time Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis as the Illinois lawyer turned Great Emancipator.
The trailer is here courtesy of the good folks across the pond at The Guardian.
Spielberg has been very clear that Lincoln's release date was staked out after the presidential election in order to avoid politicizing the movie, which is, interestingly, fare more concerned with politics than many folks seem to expect. With the election going down tomorrow, we can all look forward to the cessation of all that mud slinging and the release of Lincoln in selected theaters this Friday, November 9th, followed by the wide release on November 16th.
The screenplay is credited to Tony Kushner, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Angels in America playwright. Here, he's working with one section of Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, an incredible text by another Pulitzer winner, Doris Kearns Goodwin.