Lincoln (Blu-ray Review)

LINCOLNBRboxInspired by the true-life events confronting Abraham Lincoln and his monumental moral and political challenge to amend the United States Constitution to permanently abolish slavery, Lincoln is a rich and compelling historical and human drama that has been hailed as one of the best film of the year. In-depth bonus features on the Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack takes viewers behind-the-scenes of director Spielberg’s life-long fascination with Lincoln and the 12 years it took to bring the story of one of history’s and mankind’s greatest triumphs to the screen.  As a 2013 Oscar and Golden Globe Award-winner for his performance as America’s 16th president, Daniel Day-Lewis leads an all-star cast including Academy Award winners Tommy Lee Jones and Sally Field. Also starring David Strathaim, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and James Spader, Lincoln is based on a screenplay by Pulitzer Prize-winner Tony Kushner. The film is scored by multiple Oscar-winner John Williams.



With films like Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List, Amistad, War Horse, and now Lincoln, Steven Spielberg is proving to not only be the best cinematic storyteller ever, but also perhaps the best visual historian as well.  In each of these films, Spielberg has shone a spotlight on forgotten or distant people and events from the past, which has the cool effect of reminding the world to remember and pay tribute to those historically significant topics.  I can’t think of another filmmaker (or anyone for that matter) who has done more single-handedly to focus a fast paced world to look back in both gratitude and respect for those who had made a difference.  Thanks to his efforts, he galvanized a nation to honor its World War II veterans with a new monument that should have been erected decades earlier, or how he founded the Shoah Foundation after making Schindler’s List which has recorded thousands of oral histories that would have been lost to time if it hadn’t existed.

Since Spielberg has made a war about WWI and WWII,  I was expecting that Lincoln would feature quite a bit about the Civil War which I would have loved to have seen as I’ve always been fascinated by that period of history.  I was fairly surprised (although in retrospect I shouldn’t have been) to learn that the focus of the movie was more about Lincoln than the war itself.  The movie instead focuses on Lincoln’s efforts to get the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution which would formally abolish slavery in the United States.  To achieve that difficult task, we see Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis) resort to charming, cajoling, bribing, and subterfuge to get it passed.  The reason why he’s so desperate to get it passed is because he’s worried that his Emancipation Proclamation could be overturned by the courts once the war ends, which could happen in a matter of months.  The only way to prevent that from happening is getting the amendment passed which isn’t the most popular option at this time.

The only way it can pass is to muster enough Republican votes to defeat the Democrats who have no desire to see slavery abolished.  Even within his own party, Lincoln has many who are more concerned about ending the war than the slaves.  To make them happy and to get the support of the party’s founder Francis Preston Blair (Hal Holbrook), Lincoln is forced to send Blair to talk to the Confederate government to begin peace negotiations to end the war.  It’s a tricky situation for Lincoln as Preston and his supporters only care about ending the war even if it means allowing slavery to continue, a position that Lincoln’s other supporters will not tolerate.  Faced with the choice of pushing forward with the amendment during his party’s internal strife or waiting until the next session of Congress (where their party will have the majority), Lincoln decides that slavery’s fate must be decided before the war ends and before the Confederate states can be brought back into the Union.

It’s such a close vote that Lincoln also enlists his Secretary of State William Seward (David Strathairn) to secure the votes of the Democrats who have already lost their election or are interested in switching parties to maintain their power.  Seward brings in three agents (James Spader, John Hawkes, and Tim Blake Nelson) to start bribing those Democrats to vote for the amendment.  Lincoln is also helped by his wife Mary Todd Lincoln (Sally Field) and his ally in Congress Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones) who is even more passionate about ending slavery right away than the pragmatic Lincoln who believes it needs to happen in stages.  Watching Lincoln as a deft political operator was an interesting direction to go and it adds a new dimension to his already formidable and well-deserved reputation as one of our greatest presidents (if not the best).

Lincoln is filled with wonderful performances which were so good that Daniel Day-Lewis won a Best Actor Oscar as Lincoln and Tommy Lee Jones got a supporting actor nomination too.  In total, the movie received twelve Academy Award  and seven Golden Globe nominations which is pretty impressive.  This is a movie that you can just tell how much heart and soul went into making it as realistic and honest as it could be, a fact that’s only reinforced by the extras where you can see that dedication in the behind the scenes footage.


As befitting this fantastic movie, this 1080p (2.40:1) transfer looks incredible and looks so good that it seems as if you are there.  Janusz Kaminski beautifully captured the mood and atmosphere that Steven Spielberg wanted to evoke.  What’s especially impressive is how they’ve balanced light and dark elements perfectly despite the natural lighting throughout and it looks better than similar movies like Barry Lyndon that have employed the same aesthetic.  The colors are subdued intentionally as the film has an appropriately somber look to it that reflects what’s going on screen.  Black levels are inky dark and solid and the contrast is spot on. Every detail that was so laboriously included is very visible in this sharp picture which really help show off all of the little touches you probably didn’t see in the theater.  This is a fantastic transfer!


Lincoln’s DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix is just as wonderful as its video transfer.  This isn’t a bombastic mix, as it focuses on delivering clear dialogue and an immersive experience, which it does exceedingly well.  The film’s dialogue is always crystal clear no matter if it’s a whisper or the multitude of voices in the House chamber all yelling stridently.  The rear speakers provide a ton of immersive sound environments that add a lot of immersion to the film.  The directional effects and dialogue all sound extremely accurate in their placement and realistic.  This lossless mix is a model of subtle perfection that really works really well with this film.


There’s several home video options for this release as you can buy the DVD, a two disc Blu-ray/DVD set, and a four disc Blu-ray (2)/DVD/ Digital Copy set which includes a lot more extras as well as the digital copy.  I highly recommend you get the four disc set to get the eighty minutes of extra bonus content.  All of the extras are in high definition.

The four disc set includes:

Disc 1:

  • The Journey to Lincoln – We get to hear from Director Steven Spielberg, producer Kathleen Kennedy, screenwriter Tony Kushner, actor Daniel Day-Lewis, production designer Rick Carter, “Team of Rivals” author Doris Kearns Goodwin more introduce us to the film and talk about the direction that they decided to focus on rather than try to encapsulate the entire Lincoln experience throughout the Civil War.
  • A Historic Tapestry: Richmond, Virginia – This is a quick look at the filming location of Richmond, Virginia where its architecture and history allowed the film to recreate their sets a lot easier.

Disc 2:

  • In the Company of Character – This extra  is devoted to an exploration of how each actor approached their character and their performance.  From Daniel Day-Lewis’ method acting, to the more naturalized Sally Field, we get to hear from many of the cast and crew who share their thoughts on their process and on each other’s.
  • Crafting the Past – A fantastic look at just how authentic the costumes by Joanna Johnston and the production design by Rick Carter were, as well as an explanation of how their research made it so real and historically authentic thanks to letters, photos, and more.  It’s quite impressive to see just how accurate it all was down to the wallpaper in Lincoln’s study and they even recorded the sound of his actual stopwatch to let viewers hear it exactly like he would have.
  • Living with Lincoln – At almost thirty minutes long, this extra represents the real meat of the extras features.  This look behind the scenes was my favorite part of the extras as you get to see the process and on the fly decision making of Spielberg and his cast and crew as they made the film.
  • In Lincoln’s Footsteps – A look back with director Steven Spielberg, producer Kathleen Kennedy, editor Michael Kahn, composer John Williams and more talk about how they tried to keep the film simple yet true to the man and the period.
  • Digital Copy of the Film
  • DVD Copy of the Film


This is not only a great film, but it’s also a historically important one too.  Steven Spielberg has done it once again with the help of a brilliantly cast group of actors that really bring their roles to life.  Everything about this film oozes historical accuracy and I loved every bit of it.  The Blu-ray’s video and audio presentation is flawless and the extras are also very good and offer a lot of information on the making of the film with plenty of comments from all of the principal players who were involved.  This Blu-ray is highly recommended!

Order your copy today!



8 Responses to “Lincoln (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    I love that Tommy Lee Jones performance. Nice write-up.

  2. Sean Ferguson

    Me too. Thanks Aaron!

  3. Brian White

    I was going to watch this, but even history buff Gregg told me it was a bore. So I picked Cloud Atlas instead. I’m just not sure i can hang with this flick’s runtime despite the nice write up, Sean!

  4. Aaron Neuwirth

    Gregg who put that terrible movie The Conspirator on his top ten last year, yeesh.

  5. Sean Ferguson

    Well to each his own. I thought it was very good and I love historical movies. This was a lot better than Cloud Atlas.

  6. Gregg

    Aaron who gave Ghost Rider a rating higher than half a star.

    Yes this movie was a bore and its title misleading. It is not about Lincoln so much as it’s about the Thirteenth Amendment. The Conspirator is no 5-star film, but neither is Lincoln. Tommy Lee Jones was great and even though Daniel Day Lewis is my favorite actor, I did not think he should’ve been the Oscar winner here. At least with The Conspirator we got to witness a landmark trial and how it was rigged, whereas in Lincoln we got to witness history told in its most dry capacity.

  7. Aaron Neuwirth

    It’s funny how Ghost Rider is a movie I never think about, yet it’s used as some kind of weird weapon against me. It’s not like Burlesque,
    Which Brian tries to defend.

  8. Brian White

    Haha. That’s cuz Burlesque actually had a plausible plot, and you never even seen it 🙁 Remember the rules, Aaron. Remember the rules. With Gregg’s advice, I stay clear of Lincoln.