Steven Spielberg says Lincoln biopic will cover final months of his life -- so what will we miss?

Steven-Spielberg

Image Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

A few years, a couple stars and a lot of rumors later, the long-awaited Abraham Lincoln biopic looks to be making its first steps toward theaters.

Director Steven Spielberg told the Orlando Sentinel that although Lincoln will be based on Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin, it will focus on the last four months of Lincoln’s life — meaning the film would cover roughly the time from Dec., 1864 until his death on April 15, 1865.

Obviously, a lot happened during those four months, but a good deal happened outside of them as well. It would be hard to imagine a biopic about the 16th president of the United States with no mention of his election — a contentious left-field shocker from an upstart third party — in 1860; the Emancipation Proclamation (in 1863); the Battle of Gettysburg and Gettysburg Address (also in 1863); and his wartime re-election in 1864. There’s also the non-war elements of his life. Like the origin of his campaign nickname “Honest Abe,” his time in the U.S. House of Representatives and his courtship and marriage in 1842 to Mary Todd Lincoln — who, as you may recall, has some stories of her own.

So what would make the cut? The four-month period would cover the end of the Civil War (Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered on April 9, 1865), Lincoln’s second inaugural address in March 1865, and the brief period of peace that Lincoln was able to see before he died. Also, by focusing on the end of Lincoln’s life, we would likely see his assassination on the big screen — and possibly the attempted assassination of Secretary of State William Seward (played in the film by David Strathairn), who was stabbed multiple times but somehow survived.

Now, the word “focus” can be interpreted broadly, and I have to assume that will be the case with Lincoln. Perhaps Spielberg will set the pivotal four months as the present and use flashbacks to tell Abe’s story. Or the movie could make quick work of the first 55 years of Lincoln’s life and spend the bulk of the movie’s running time focusing on his last days.

Or it can start right on December 15, 1864, and leave the rest up to Wikipedia. Only Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner know for sure.

What do you think, PopWatchers? What events from Lincoln’s life have to make the cut? And how do you feel about Daniel Day-Lewis in the role?

Read more:
Steven Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln’ adds team of rivals: Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Hawkes
Steven Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln’ gets its Mary Todd: Sally Field
Daniel Day-Lewis to play President Lincoln in Steven Spielberg biopic


Comments (21 total) Add your comment
Page: 1 2
  • Templar

    That seems a very narrow window into a much bigger story. Not Crazy about DDL for the role.

    • people

      ur kidding! daniel day Lewis is gonna be the bomb yo. If he ain’t dope like there will be blood or fat stacks like gangs of new York or even money like my left foot then I’ll give u my tone homeboy and u can clean out my ears with the metal yo. day Lewis is wicked good

      • Jill

        Take your meds before you post again. kay?

      • Boof

        Dude….you really need to STFU!

      • lol

        “or even money like my left foot”

        I just lost it.

  • Sam J

    Lincoln riding the train to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and writing the address montage.

    Oscar bait.

  • Bill

    Well at least we got the Cowboys and Aliens out of the way for this movie. (nuck nuck nuck!)

  • Film Fan

    Was so looking forward to Liam Neeson in the role. I thought he and Holly Hunter were perfect. Neeson and Spielberg made a great team before–hope Neeson isn’t out just because of that. He could give the “large” presence that Lincoln needs. Those “hands” in Schindler’s list are so memorable….

  • Daddy

    That Mary Todd Lincoln link to that horrible program with lame KidzBop singers in a high school ruined my day. You suck, Benjamin Wood.

  • Feona

    A aside: wonder how DDL prepared for role. Spending 3 months alone in a cabin, away from people, might give him an idea of the mental stamina & rigor it took to survive on the great plains. But I don’t usually appreciate DDL’s performances because I don’t see them as 3D — some element of humanity is always missing.

  • Damon

    I think Michael Shannon would be great as Lincoln!

  • Boof

    I’m curious to see how Spielberg works the holocaust into a movie about Lincoln.

  • Why?

    Hank Azzaria has the right sad, somber look and the gravitas.

  • Regina George

    I’m about to lose all faith in this biopic, even if it is directed by Steven Spielberg.

  • Dan Foley

    I think the film is going to be great! I would still like to know who will be playing Grant…

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  • Nolan Martin

    Just finished reading the book, Team of Rivals yesterday, first of all, great book. Am really excited about this movie for a lot of reasons, am fascinated by the Civil War and the late 1860s, Abraham Lincoln is one of my dad’s personal heros and have a super man crush on DDL. As an actor myself, watching this man transform himself in his characters is a joy. Saw him actually for the first time in Gangs of New York, thought, eh, he’s okay and then in a Disabilities class, we watched the film My Left Foot, and was floored.

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