Abraham Lincoln is one of the most revered figures in US history. His role as the wartime US President during the US Civil War cemented his place in US popular history. Lincoln’s Presidency was cut short by his assassination, ensuring that his popular legacy was not marred by post-war scandals and party politics.
Further, his assassination elevated him to the status of national martyr. Consequently Lincoln’s life and personal appearance are commonly depicted in film in hagiographic terms – as with Christian saints and popular heroes, he is depicted as a man endowed with greatness. Indeed his life before his Presidency was not so much a journey of self-discovery and personal growth, but a journey in which the people around him progressively became aware of his greatness.
The following films are representative of the move industry’s depictions of the life of Abraham Lincoln.
|Young Mr Lincoln||Type||Film|
|Overview||‘Young Mr Lincoln’ is concerned with the early life of Abraham Lincoln. It was directed by John Ford and starred Henry Fonda (as Abraham Lincoln).The story follows Lincoln’s journey to becoming a country lawyer – i.e. self-taught, but his handling of a murder case and his successful uncovering of the true murderer establishes his reputation and attracts the romantic attentions of a local woman (Mary Todd, who Lincoln is later to marry).The film is notable for several reasons – Lincoln’s characterisation as a youthful idealist; and the ridiculous lengths taken to emphasise Lincoln’s physical stature (Henry Fonda’s odd walking style, his arrival in Springfield on a mule too small for his stature and so on).|
|Overview||Based on a novel of the same name by Gore Vidal, ‘Lincoln’ follows the life of Lincoln from his presidential campaign (1860) through to his assassination at the end of the US Civil War (1865).|
|Overview||In 1865, as the American Civil War winds inexorably toward conclusion, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln endeavours to achieve passage of the landmark constitutional amendment which will forever ban slavery from the United States. However, his task is a race against time, for peace may come at any time, and if it comes before the amendment has passed, the returning southern states will stop it before it becomes law. Lincoln must, by almost any means possible, obtain enough votes from a recalcitrant Congress before peace arrives and it is too late. Yet the President is torn, as an early peace would save thousands of lives. As the nation confronts its conscience over the freedom of its entire population, Lincoln faces his own crisis of conscience – end slavery or end the war.|
|Sources||Review by Jim Beaver c/ IMBDDiscussion|