DVD Release Date: March 26, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: November 16, 2012
Rating: PG-13 (for an intense scene of war violence, some images of carnage and brief strong language
Genre: Biopic/Drama/Historical
Run Time: 149 min.
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tommy Lee Jones, James Spader, Hal Holbrook 

Unlike that other Abraham Lincoln movie that graced theaters earlier this year, Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln is a stately, honest take on the life and legacy of America’s 16th president.

Lest you mistake stately for stuffy, however, Lincoln isn’t a dry, exhaustive chronicle of Honest Abe’s entire presidency. Instead, Lincoln wisely employs a much narrower focus, zeroing in on the last few months of Lincoln’s life. It's this period that Doris Kearns Goodwin captured in her best-selling book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. Goodwin’s research serves as the film’s primary, but not exclusive, source material.

Featuring a screenplay penned by a Pulitzer-winning writer (Tony Kushner, Munich) and starring Oscar-winner Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood), who’s practically a shoo-in for another gold statuette, there’s really not much that an accomplished director like Spielberg could do to mess this up. And from beginning to end, Spielberg makes the most of the opportunity, offering a very human lens, rather than a stilted caricature, of this beloved leader without placing him on too high of a pedestal in the process.

Considering how yet another exhaustive election season has recently drawn to a close, Lincoln also serves as a relevant reminder of how many moving parts are involved in passing anything of cultural significance. Yes, there was serious political gridlock back in Lincoln’s day, too, and the fight for freedom, equality and justice was a tireless effort. And with Lincoln, we get actually get a behind-the-scenes look at the process as the president struggles to not only end the Civil War, but to pass the 13th amendment to abolish slavery.

Given Spielberg’s pedigree and penchant for blockbusters, one might expect that he’d rely heavily on what’s worked before in everything from War Horse to Saving Private Ryan to Amistad—flashy action sequences, sentimental speeches and elaborate set pieces—to maximize emotional impact and keep things moving at a brisk clip. But outside of an opening scene that effectively showcases the gruesome realities of war, Spielberg almost approaches Lincoln like an independent film. Opting for a quieter, contemplative approach that juxtaposes nicely with the weighty proceedings, only the occasionally intrusive John Williams score reminds us it’s a Spielberg production.

Funny enough, while the film is titled Lincoln, it’s really about so much more than the man himself. Flashes of humor, whip-smart dialogue and arresting cinematography make it entertaining, but it’s the celebration of something even greater than Abraham Lincoln himself that makes the movie stick with you. Constantly pointing to the Source of the ideals Lincoln espoused - love, justice and equality for all - the audience learns even more about what made the President so committed to the cause, despite facing countless obstacles along the way. No doubt, faith plays an essential role.