Trailer breakdown: no blinkin', it's Spielberg's Lincoln


16th September 2012

The trailer for Steven Spielberg's Lincoln has finally dropped, so join us as we dissect every frame in detail, searching desperately for jokes to make about vampires and hats.

0:12 - Even though Lincoln is a political biopic, rest assured it'll have wars in it; wars with people crawling through mud and getting stabbed and going 'Urrrrghh' - the kind Steven Spielberg does best. And just in case you were unaware, the Battle of Gettsyburg was fought by TRUE AMERICANS, hence the first of many Stars and Stripes.

0:17 - The voiceover is the Gettsyburg Address, one of Lincoln's most revered 'shout-outs', although that's not Daniel Day-Lewis you can hear delivering it, just some rando. Here's Lincoln's back and beard silhouette, talking to a black guy. He abolished the slaves, you know.


0:30 - This is a shot from the opening scene of Demolition Man. Spielberg added it as a homage to his favourite Stallone film.

0:33 - "We can't tell our people they can vote 'yes' on abolishing slavery unless at the same time, you can tell them that you're seeking and negotiating peace!" Thrilling stuff already, I'm sure you'll agree. As you can see, the set dressing and lighting looks to be every bit as visually stimulating as the last notable Oscar-bait political bio, J Edgar, a movie so drab it might as well have been a 32-colour animated gif.

0:38 - The perfect Oscar trifecta: important men in hats, on horses.

0:39 - A rare shot of Daniel Day-Lewis performing his daily self-hypnosis pre-shoot to help him get into character.

0:41 - "It's either the amendment or this Confederate peace, you cannot have both!" David Strathairn's Secretary of State William Seward here, who was famous for helping engineer the abolition of slavery and purchasing Alaska from the Russians. He also pioneered the soul patch, by the looks of it.

0:42 - Sad Lincoln is sad. He really wanted to abolish slavery this weekend.

0:44 - Jackie Earle Haley's Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens asks The Prez "How many hundreds and thousands have died during your administration?" This coming from Freddy Krueger, oh THAT is rich.

0:45 - (See 0:12)

0:48 - "Congress must never declare equal those who GOD created UNEQUAL!" Looks like we have our villain of the piece, Lee Pace's Democratic asshat Fernando Wood, who emphasises the word "GOD" so we know he only cares about bearded men on clouds and not black guys.

0:49 - Sally Field's Mrs Lincoln is all, like, no way.


0:51 - "Leave the Constitution ALONE!" Lincoln is sick of hearing this shit.

0:53 - The most hats ever committed to film.

0:59 - Lincoln considers buying two young slave boys for $700 before deciding that might be a little hypocritical considering his well-publicised stance on slavery. It's just, y'know, the house isn't cleaning itself.

1:02 - Our first glimpse of ANGRY LINCOLN. "We are stepped out upon the world stage now, the fate of human dignity in our hands. BLOOD's been SPILLED to afford us this moment, NOW, NOW, NOW!" Note that Day-Lewis has opted for the historically accurate high-pitched whine for Lincoln's voice, as opposed to the inaccurate booming baritone as heard in recent vampire-slaying iterations of the character, which shall remain nameless.

1:08 - John Williams punches in 'stirring+strings' into his soundtrack-o-matic and out comes a theme that sounds very much like War Horse, only with more people than horses.

1:12 - Tommy Lee Jones plays Thaddeus Stevens, whose penchant for wearing ridiculous wigs is somewhat at odds here with the emotive John Williams soundtrack. That is a badass cane, granted.

1:14 - Look, it's Joseph Gordon-Levitt (*does 'tsssss' sizzle thing with finger to indicate current hotness*) taking his hat off out of respect to John Williams. He plays Robert Todd Lincoln, Abe's son. Given the director, I think it's fair to assume he might have some daddy issues.

1:16 - Here's Lincoln chilling out and having a beer with the voters, just like an average Joe. He seems to be saying, "I like a pint of foaming, nut-brown ale just as much as you guys! I have opinions on reality TV stars and pop music too! You should probably vote for my slavery thing, yeah?"

1:23 - "This fight is for the United States of America!" Just in case you needed a reminder.

1:26 - Young Robert Lincoln races through the halls of congress in a homemade cart, causing much hilarity among the gathered politico. "LOL!" they cry, "T'is just like that bit in The Shining!" You wouldn't see Sasha and Malia pulling this shit at the White House.

1:31 - A nice shot of the scene in which the American citizens famously threw their hats in the air like they just didn't care. Bonus points if you spotted the stovepipe among the hattery.

1:41 - Day-Lewis perfects his 'Bored as fuck on a Sunday' expression.

1:44 - Sally Field perfects her 'Proud of my Presihusbident' expression.

1:47 - Another subtle fluttering of the Stars and Stripes to accompany Tommy Lee Jones, the most American American in America.

1:48 - HATS. FLAGS. CAPITOL HILL. We need more Oscars, STAT.

1:50 - Ooh, it's Jared Harris (in a hat, natch) as President Ulysses S Grant. 'Riverboat Sunset' would be a great name for a hipster band. Interesting if unrelated fact: James Spader is also in Lincoln playing a man named 'WN Bilbo'. Even Wikipedia draws a blank on that guy.

1:52 - War is hell, etc. Look at all the discarded wheels! Spokes everywhere. It's an inhumane, if very well lit, battlefield.

1:56 - Lincoln is offered the ceremonial fist-bump by a black soldier, the action of which officially signifies the end of slavery. History isn't exactly my strong suit, as you might have guessed by now.

2:00 - See, Lincoln reads to his kids in front of open windows and fluttering curtains, just like us! He's not just a politician, he's a human man, with hopes and dreams and children and windows!

2:05 - "Shall we stop this bleeding?" Weird of Spielberg to end on a tongue-in-cheek reference to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, but he's just being the bigger man, I suppose.

Fine, watch it in 24-frames per second like an IDIOT, see if I care.

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