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TV Movie Review: 'Killing Lincoln'.
It appears that Hollywood is attempting to milk all that it can from the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. Since I enjoy history, I can't say that I'm disappointed with it. In June of 2012, the fantasy horror movie 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter' was released. Later in 2012, Steven Spielberg's drama film, 'Lincoln' was released in movie theaters. On February 17, 2013, the National Geographic Channel premiered the documentary/drama 'Killing Lincoln'.
Like various other accounts of Abraham Lincoln, this made for television film detailed the events leading up to the assassination of the 16th president. I - like many others, have always been intrigued by the murder of the man that many consider to be the greatest president in the history of the United States. So much so, that I brought and read the book 'The Day Lincoln was Shot'. I had the opportunity to see Killing Lincoln on the night it premiered. I'm going to give a brief review on what I thought of the docudrama.
Killing Lincoln was based on the book; 'Killing Lincoln: The Assassination that Changed America Forever.' The book was authored by Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly, and Martin Dugard. The book itself was released back September of 2011, and was a best seller on Amazon. As of November, 2011, it is number two on the New York Times best-selling non-fiction list.
Although the book is a popular best seller, it has been met with criticisms from various critics and historians. In the latter part of 2011, Bill O'Reilly told USA Today via a phone interview that he was in talks with producers to turn the book into a cable television special. British film director Tony Scott had been working on an adaption for the book for the National Geographic Channel. However, Scott committed suicide on August 19, 2012.
Production for the film had already begun at the time of Scott's death. The movie was aired as a tribute to Tony Scott. Killing Lincoln was directed by Adrian Moat, and stars Billy Campbell as Lincoln, Jesse Johnson as John Wilkes Booth, and Geraldine Hughes as Mary Todd Lincoln.
Killing Lincoln is narrated by actor Tom Hanks. Although Hanks narrated the film, there is plenty of acting that takes place in the film. The film shows the perspective from both John Wilkes Booth and Abraham Lincoln. John Wilkes Booth is remembered as the stage actor, who put the plot to murder the president and members of his cabinet into play. Booth pulled off one of the most historic crimes in American history. The film portrays Lincoln as a hero of the Civil War, but also as a deeply troubled man, who appeared to see visions of his impending death coming.
The film displays various events from both Booth and Lincoln leading up to tragic events at Fords Theater. The events of the film are cut between flashbacks to narrator Tom Hanks, where he is shown sitting in a chair with various items that somehow relate to the film's story. During the cuts to Hanks, he reveals the number of days and hours both Lincoln and Booth have to live. I thought it was a nice twist, and made the movie more interesting to watch.
Some of the historic moments captured in the film include President Lincoln's walk through Richmond, Virginia, and encountering an African-American slave who thanked him. Lincoln sitting in Jefferson Davis's chair, and the graphic attack on Lincoln's Secretary of State, William Seward, by the hands of Booth's associate and co-conspirator Lewis Powell.
I really enjoyed watching this film, and even learned some things I hadn't previously known. For example, there was a scene during the movie where Booth mentioned how he could have killed Lincoln at Lincoln's second inaugural address. Booth was actually at the address, and had his sights on Lincoln. I never knew this until seeing this film. Although it was two hours long(with commercials), it didn't feel like it at all. For years I've been wanting to see the assassination of President Lincoln played out on film, but for one reason or another I was unable to. There are various scenes in this film that are graphic and hard to watch, but the acting is top notch.
The guy playing Abraham Lincoln(Billy Campbell) done an amazing job in my opinion. Besides Geraldine Hughes, I wasn't previously aware of any of the other others. Hughes herself was amazing as Lincoln's wife. There is definitely some language that many would consider inappropriate However, I feel it's necessary to capture the element of the rough times back then.
If I had to rate this film, I would give it a 5 out of 5. I'm no expert film critic, but I think this was a good made for television movie. The movie averaged 3.4 million viewers, and is currently National Geographic's highest rated television airing. I'm definitely not a fan of Bill O'Reilly, but I have to give him credit for helping shape this film.
If you enjoyed this, check out my review on the book 'The Day Lincoln was Shot'.