Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Film Note:'Lincoln'

The Art of Intentional Leadership

Steven Spielberg's Lincoln is one of the best cinematic period pieces offered in years.

No stranger to wartime dramatization--Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, War Horse--Spielberg fine tunes a stellar troop of actors who depict American history between the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and the start of the Reconstruction Era.

Spielberg unfolds Lincoln, as the newly reelected president chats with two Negro soldiers just off the battlefield. From that moment on, the storyline progresses with an intensity that transports viewers a century and a half back in our history, to that place where a divided nation faced its greatest civil anguish.

Seasoned actors superbly execute Spielberg's slant on how President Lincoln kept his head and his bearings in the midst of overwhelming burdens.

Commendably, neither Daniel Day-Lewis nor Sally Field ever 'appear' in the film. Both submerged themselves, permitting  the then president and first lady to displace them.  The same erasure of self must be noted of Tommy Lee Jones who unveils the dynamic Pennsylvania Congressman Thaddeus Stevens.  Jones  fires wit, fast thinking, and tenacity as he renders Stevens' determination to see that the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment comes to fruition.

The theme of  Lincoln is best summarized by a declaration made by a civil war general not in the dramatization. As he marched to the sea to defeat the confederacy, General William T. Sherman declared that, "War is hell."

Spielberg does not relent in getting the great general's observation across. Lincoln's marital issues, congress's political sparring, and symbolically--union medics dumping amputated body parts into a collective grave  gutter--all reverberate that war is indeed hell. The only way out of hell, this dramatization suggests, is to become intentional in removing oneself.

The Negro soldiers in that first scene were intentional as they conversed with the president. Tad and Robert, the Lincolns' sons, were intentional as they sought to redefine their young lives. What is more,  as Lincoln and Stevens lobbied congress to get the votes to make the proposed amendment a  law, neither ceased in--intentionality.

Lincoln reminds any leader with a vision, of the need to wield intentionality as though it were second nature. The cinema is still in theaters.  It is a must-see film for any businessperson with the objective to achieve a vision, or the will  to get out of some hell or the other.

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