Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln will not be released in theaters until after this year’s presidential election in the U.S., in accordance with the director’s wishes, to avoid politicizing the historical drama. However, marketing is another matter, as a new two-minute preview premiered during the Obama-Romney debate last night.
The television trailer focuses on the personal trials and tribulations that Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis) endures in Spielberg’s film, ranging from marital strife with his wife Mary Todd (Sally Field) – to dealing with the guilt that comes with all the carnage and destruction of the Civil War that occurred under his time in office – as well as the shrewd maneuvers and shaky alliances the famous U.S. president strikes in order to both reunite the country and formally abolish slavery.
It’s a more intense and less atmospheric promo than the theatrical preview for Lincoln, trading in John William’s swooning patriotic score for traditional trailer music. There are still plenty of moments showcasing the cast’s performances, with more footage of Lewis scolding his peers, Field admonishing her husband for his shortcomings, and glimpses at other political players – such as Secretary of State William Seward (David Strathairn) and Congressman Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones) – as they attempt to reconcile the reality of the situation with Lincoln’s idealistic demands.
Spielberg previously described Lincoln as “very much like a procedural” and less visually-oriented than his 1997 historical drama Amistad. The television trailer, in other words, seems to be a more accurate representation of the film (in terms of tone and style) than the awards-baiting theatrical promo.
Lincoln is based on a portion of Pulitzer Prize-winner Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” which in part accounts for why Spielberg’s film appears to focus more on nitty, gritty, details and ‘dirty secrets’ rather than a broader overview of history. The script was also written by a Pulitzer Prize-winner in Tony Kusher, who worked once before with Spielberg on the Oscar-nominated drama Munich (another film that served as an eloquent, but grounded, take on a tumultuous historical event).
The cast of Lincoln also includes acclaimed actors Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Looper), Jackie Earle Haley (Little Children), Jared Harris (Mad Men), Michael Stuhlbarg (Boardwalk Empire), Lee Pace (Pushing Daisies), James Spader (The Office), and Walton Goggins (Justified). Hence, you shouldn’t be surprised if this film manages to rack up several award nominations for acting, especially when it comes to Lewis’ performance as Honest Abe.
Look for Lincoln to begin a limited theatrical release on November 9th, 2012, before going wide a week later on the 16th.