Steven Spielberg says ‘Lincoln’ is no political football at NY Film Fest

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Steven Spielberg says ‘Lincoln’ is no political football at NY Film Fest

NEW YORK - Steven Spielberg offered a cinematic vision of President Abraham Lincoln’s battle to outlaw slavery in “Lincoln,” which had a sneak preview that is already generating early buzz of awards for star Daniel Day-Lewis.

After a screening at the New York Film Festival on Monday, Spielberg acknowledged the pressure of bringing to the big screen one of America’s most revered political figures, and he side-stepped questions about its relevance to current politics ahead of the Nov. 6 U.S. presidential elections.

To audience laughter, Spielberg said he had deliberately sought to avoid such entanglements by asking for a release date after the elections. “Lincoln” is due for limited release Nov. 9 and timed for the Hollywood awards season.

“Don’t let this political football play back and forth,” the Oscar-winning director said he urged distributors, noting the “confusing” aspect in the film that shows how U.S. political parties back in Lincoln’s time “traded political places over the last 150 years.”

In contrast to today, the Republican party to which Lincoln belonged was founded by anti-slavery activists and Republicans were often tagged “radicals.”

Two-time Oscar-winning actor Day-Lewis portrays Lincoln as a charismatic, gifted wordsmith and an often quietly determined, skilled politician who risked his popularity to gain enough votes to pass the 13th Amendment - which outlawed slavery - in the U.S. House of Representatives during the final months of 1865.

Irish-British actor Day-Lewis, along with Sally Field who plays his wife Mary Todd Lincoln, stood up to wild applause after the screening, where security was high and filmgoers waited nearly an hour for the movie to begin.

Spielberg described Day-Lewis as “the consummate artist” and praised his understated take on “the stature and momentous kind of humanity of Lincoln” and ability to remain true to history’s account of Lincoln with a high-pitched, quavering yet commanding vocal tone.

The dialogue-heavy film offers an inside look at the often dry legislative process and how Lincoln’s push for the anti-slavery amendment could have jeopardized the end of the Civil War.

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