New ‘Lincoln’ Trailer Offers Better Look at Daniel Day-Lewis as the Iconic Leader (VIDEO)

First 'Lincoln' Trailer
Spielberg debuts the full-length promo during online chat.
First Look at 'Lincoln'
Steven Spielberg reveals poster for Abraham Lincoln biopic.
Forget Mitt Romney or Barack Obama. If you watched last night’s debate, no one came off as more presidential than Daniel Day-Lewis.

The two-time Oscar-winner was front and center in the newest trailer for Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, which debuted at the end of last night’s televised presidential debate.

Dubbed “Unite,” the two-minute clip offered a much deeper look at Day-Lewis’ performance as Abraham Lincoln than did the first full-length trailer released three weeks ago.

What was so striking about the film’s Lincoln, as seen in the “Unite” clip?

The Abraham Lincoln revealed in the new clip seems both larger and smaller than life.

“Think we choose to be born? Or are we fitted to the times we’re born into?” Day-Lewis’ Lincoln is heard asking at the beginning of the trailer, over historical footage of other great liberators (Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela).

The question suggests a hero who, like the others cited in the montage, was an ordinary man who rose spectacularly to the occasion during a time of crisis. The President Lincoln shown throughout the rest of the trailer seems both plagued by self-doubt — apparent in a cracking, high-pitched voice that’s more Peter Brady than Morgan Freeman — and angrily resolute about what the morally right thing to do is.

In other words, it’s the kind of grand, internal struggle tailor-made for the actor who brought us Daniel Plainview, John Proctor, Newland Archer, and Christy Brown.

It’s a dramatic improvement over the first trailer, which showed very little of Day-Lewis’ Lincoln and seemed to embalm him in noble, great-man trappings and soft-fanfare music, making him seem more like an animatronic figure at Disney World’s Hall of Presidents than a flesh-and-blood man who, through force of will and personality, overcame daunting obstacles, including his own frailties, to answer history’s call. The first clip seemed to herald a movie that would present a safe, reverent portrait of the Lincoln we all learned about in school. The “Unite” clip suggests a movie that will strip away all that and force us to consider anew what it was about Lincoln that makes us admire him still.

Both trailers have been clever as far as the manner of their release is concerned.

“Unite” appeared just at the moment when Americans are thinking most carefully about the qulities they seek in a president. The earlier trailer was unveiled during a Google+ hangout chat between Spielberg and fans, suggesting that the movie’s revisiting of the 19th century was undertaken by artists fully conversant with the 21st century.

Compare and contrast for yourself the new “Unite” clip, at the top of this article, with the original trailer, below. Does the new trailer make you more or less eager to see Lincoln when it opens on November 16? Let us know in the comments below.