Abraham Lincoln is a 1930 film based on the life of the sixteenth president of the United States of America. The story follows Lincoln from his birth, through adulthood, and into the hardships of his presidency. The film is a dramatized version of Lincoln's biography, and essentially goes through every important event in Lincoln's life.
One of the best parts of the film is the uncanny resemblance between the lead actor and Abraham Lincoln. This doppelganger effect helps the actor achieve a very convincing Lincoln. Some of the humor in the film still holds up and you'll get some laughs from the dialogue. It is also nice to see such a friendly political debate between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas. The point versus point format of the debate in the film appears more realistic and civil than what we have in reality.
Unfortunately, there is much about the film that can be criticized. There are spots of bad acting throughout, such as the "I'm angry" folding of the arms and pouting bottom lip routine. There are awkward camera stares by the characters that are meant to accentuate their points, but instead are confusing and do anything but accentuate. Lincoln said three times that he wanted to preserve the Union, and then looks directly at the camera and practically yells it. Is he talking to me or is there a character directly behind the camera he is speaking to? There are corny, melodramatic moments, especially between Lincoln and his first wife. The movie moves from one event to the next at a break-neck speed, never allowing the story or characters to develop. His ascension to presidency is clumsily foreshadowed in his early years repeatedly. Far too often. Not to mention the fact that Lincoln's wife, Mary Todd, is completely insufferable.
The cynicism of the Mary Todd character is not based on any historical inaccuracies, it is the fact that we are shown her vapid and selfish personality and it is never addressed or resolved. We know that she was pursuing Lincoln before she met him due to his potential wealth and power. But why does Lincoln like her? For that matter, why does Lincoln have the political feelings that he is so adamant about? The film never addresses the conflicts and thoughts of the characters. Of course, we can learn what has happened in history ourselves, but the movie itself does nothing in this regard, and honestly should have been the basis of the story. The audience knows the historical chronological events, but when the "why" of the matter is dropped, the film loses all feeling and meaning. Instead of developing the character of Lincoln, we are given a checklist of important events, which are then dramatized.
I do not recommend this film to anyone. If you want to explore the personality and life of Abraham Lincoln, you're not going to get it here. If you want a civil war movie, you're not going to get that either. If your intent is to delve into the slavery debate at the time, that doesn't exist in this film. Perhaps you're simply interested in Lincoln's personal life and his familial relationships. You won't get that either. I hate to say it, but this is definitely one of the worst Abraham Lincoln films.
Brief vignettes about Lincoln's early life include his birth, early jobs, (unsubstantiated) affair with Ann Rutledge, courtship of Mary Todd, and the Lincoln-Douglas debates; his presidency and the Civil War are followed in somewhat more detail, though without actual battle scenes; film concludes with the assassination.
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December 21, 2013 at 09:17 AM