Blu-ray Review: ‘Lincoln’

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Blu-ray Review: ‘Lincoln’
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Movie poster for "Lincoln"

Inspired by the real-life events that confronted President Abraham Lincoln in permanently abolishing slavery in the United States, the critically acclaimed 2012 biographical drama "Lincoln" stands tall in its four-disc set that consists of two Blu-ray discs and two DVDs. The package houses the film's Blu-ray, DVD, and digital copies, as well as a wealth of supplements. Partly based on the Doris Kearns Goodwin novel "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln," this adaptation masterfully covers the last few months of his life at a time when the nation is divided by war and the strong winds of change.

Steven Spielberg seems indulged in creating a restrained opus that is relatively far from his lesser but often effects-savvy efforts as a director and producer. He aptly works around the complexities of an era as a weary leader stops at nothing to secure his needed votes to pass the intended amendment to the constitution. He doesn't absolutely put Lincoln into the pedestal of righteousness, but it shows him as a human being dedicated to his noble pursuits -- even at the expense of employing extremely maneuvering political tactics. Daniel Day-Lewis' central performance as Lincoln led him to taking home the Academy Award for Best Actor. His equally brilliant co-stars in the film include Sally Field, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Jared Harris, Jackie Earle Haley, John Hawkes, Lee Pace, Hal Holbrook, and James Spader.

Visuals

This political drama is a predominantly dark and moody offering with period-specific aesthetics. Its intimate cinematography favors muted colors, immaculately stark shadows, diffused lighting, pale flesh tones, and dusty low-lit rooms. All these add weight and gravity to the proceedings without undermining picture quality. The inky blacks promote appreciable gradations, while the dynamic highlights aptly surface with evocative intentions for the narrative. A light veil of grain offers a filmic texture to the presentation. There are exquisite details throughout and there are no crucial oddities to report anywhere in the picture.

Audio

This disc edition delivers a seven-channel lossless track, along with dubbed five-channel options in Spanish and French. With seamless directionality, the various elements and the all-encompassing surrounds are expertly threaded in between channels. The beautiful score engages with its fine collection of period tunes -- adding enough emotional oomph to many scenes.

With a primarily dialogue-driven mix heavy on conversations and orations, the film suitably values subtlety and it makes this work for the story's needs. The front speakers house each witty remark and anecdote with utmost clarity. Both whispered and shouted lines are impeccably prioritized throughout.

Supplements

The package comes with nearly 80 minutes of bonus content. The first Blu-ray disc contains the production featurettes "The Journey to Lincoln" and "A Historic Tapestry: Richmond, Virginia." The second Blu-ray disc contains the more substantial production featurettes "In the Company of Character," "Crafting the Past," "Living with Lincoln," and "In Lincoln's Footsteps." The film provides subtitle options in English SDH, Spanish, and French.

Final Thoughts

"Lincoln" is a monumentally powerful character-driven piece that stands apart from the overwhelmingly cynical political dramas often dominating Hollywood. A stellar achievement for Spielberg and his collaborators, it resonates with its artful restraint and its consistently focused storytelling. Superbly crafted, historically significant, and dutifully executed, it promotes an engaging cinematic experience for the general audience. Its dramatic flair rightfully blends shrewd realism with principled idealism without becoming overkill.

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