At first, it’s natural to assume that’s Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln speaking with an adapted Kentuckian twang in the above clip. However, partway through the preview to this week’s Lincoln trailer – yes, it’s time for another trailer-for-the-trailer – the voice is revealed to belong to an African-American member of the Union army (played by David Oyelowo).
Steven Spielberg’s biographical drama takes place during the tail-end of the American Civil War, as well as the final fourth months of Lincoln’s life. The director has been keen to emphasize that his focus is on the 16th U.S. president’s push to abolish slavery through a constitutional amendment – thus, giving “teeth” to his famous wartime act known as the Emancipation Proclamation.
What better way to illustrate the personal nature this political struggle took on for Lincoln than an exchange such as that above? Therein, the president is reminded of the responsibilities and promises inherent to his famous Gettysburg Address, as recounted by one of the very Americans who risked life and limb in order to uphold the values heralded by his country’s leader. It’s a scenario that could’ve easily lent hit a false note, but Janusz Kaminski’s dark, crisp, cinematography – combined with John Williams’ patriotic score – raise this Lincoln clip above such “Oscar bait” trappings (in this writer’s opinion, of course).
The actual film could fall prey to heavy-handedness, but Spielberg is drawing from a script penned by Pulitzer Prize-winner Tony Kushner – who, with his work on the director’s Munich, demonstrated that he knows how to craft an engaging historical drama without making the experience seem like a chore to watch. Moreover, this is the sort of story that features less of the heart-string-tugging from last year’s War Horse – which still proved to be a very good film despite its moments of over-hamminess (thanks in no small part to Spielberg).
Check back in later this week for the full Lincoln trailer – where, presumably, we will finally get to hear what Lewis sounds like as the titular U.S. president (in addition to his uncanny physical resemblance).
Lincoln begins a limited U.S. theatrical release on November 9th, 2012, before it goes wide on the 16th.