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Steven Spielberg: Looking for Lincoln

In an election year, the director finds lessons in leadership from a flawed but great president

Steven Spielberg, director of the new movie 'Lincoln'

Steven Spielberg, director of "Lincoln." — Art Streiber/August Images

If you think the winner of this year's presidential election will face a divided country, just imagine what Abraham Lincoln was up against.

In his new movie, Lincoln, director Steven Spielberg explores how America's 16th president — faced with a rebellious South and a skeptical North — heroically led the nation through civil war and ended slavery.

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"I wanted to make a movie about a working president, not a posing president," says Spielberg. "At a time when it's become practically automatic to deride politics and politicians, we wanted to explore and celebrate what a great politician can do."

Spielberg's got two-time Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood) playing his Lincoln, and his script, by Angels in America playwright Tony Kushner, is based on Doris Kearns Goodwin's landmark Lincoln biography, A Team of Rivals.

"We concentrated on Lincoln's political skills," says Spielberg. "I hope our film shows his acumen, his toughness, his clear-sighted judgment — all the things that made it possible for him to do extraordinary things, to change the world."

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