- From the Publisher
- A Cup Half-Empty
- Who Were the Lincoln Life Guards?
- Kepi Controversy
- Primary Source Material: Manuscripts
- Overlooked Evidence: Lincoln in Pioneer Chicago
- “THE UNION Is DISSOLVED” The Charleston Mercury Broadside: Points of Authenticity and Variations
- Lincoln Letter Fraud on Ebay
- What He Really Thought of Lincoln: The Discovery of an Unpublished Letter by William F. Herndon
- The Sanitary Fair’s Gifts to President Lincoln
- Behind the Scenes At Federal Hall
- In The Marketplace
- LINCOLNPHILE (book reviews)
- The Annotated Lincoln
- Lincoln’s Campaign Biographies
- Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History
- “Lincoln” Hits the Screens
- We Have The War Upon Us: The Onset of the Civil War, November 1860-April 1861
- Homefront & Battlefield: Quilts and Context in the Civil War
- President James Buchanan and the Crisis of National Leadership
- Giant in the Shadows: The Life of Robert T. Lincoln
- Lincoln Legends: Myths, Hoaxes, and Confabulations Associated With Our Greatest President.
- Abraham Lincoln: The Image of His Greatness.
- Letters to the Editor
- The Obvious Lincoln
- DeWitt Deaccession Debate
- Fake Lincoln Endorsement
- Historical inaccuracies found in CDV
- More on the Lincoln Avengers
- Cartoon Artist Identified
- Kepi Commentary
- An Item in Search of a Story
- Show & Tell
- Replicas For Sale
- Dueling Blogs
- Lincoln Artwork or Just Artwork?
- Devil with a Blue Dress On
- Breyer Model Horses
- Kudos on the new site!
- This daguerreotype looks like Lincoln, but is it Lincoln?
- What Is Lincoln’s Embalmer Worth?
- New Lincoln Stuff on the Market
- Rail Splinters
- Suspect Lincoln
- A Note from the Great Beyond
- ‘A. Lincoln’ Money Pit
- Added Cachet Value
- A Constant Flow of Fakes
- Problematic Copy Images
- Fraudulent Tintype
- If Only It Were Real!
- Rip-Off Ribbons
- Bogus Ballot
- “Ay, tear her tattered ensign down”
- Legit and Illegitimate Theater: The Ford’s Theatre Ticket
- Implausible Provenance
- Twice As [Not] Nice
- These Have Age, But Not Enough
- The Real and the Unreal
- Great Finds!
“Lincoln” Hits the Screens
It seems like new Lincoln books are published every week, but Lincoln movies are something else. We have looked forward to the making and release of Steven Spielberg’s biopic for some time and went to see it on its second day of release in our part of the country.
No doubt many Railsplitters headed to the multiplexes and gladly forked over their “coin” to see the 2 1/2 hour feature, so we are not telling you anything you don’t already know, but “Lincoln” is a terrific film that was well worth the wait.
Unlike other Lincoln films that span many years in Lincoln’s life, this work covers a brief period, from Lincoln’s re-election to his assassination. It focuses in on efforts to pass in the House of Representatives the 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolishing slavery. As such, it has the three essentials to a successful film, often lacking, namely: unity, direction and purpose.
Despite his reputation in the business, we were somewhat apprehensive about the lead actor, Daniel Day-Lewis, as we thought his performances in “There Will Be Blood” and “The Gangs of New York” were over-the-top. These fears were misplaced. Day-Lewis has taken the portrayal of Abraham Lincoln to a whole new level which merits being called the definitive interpretation. He looks exactly like Lincoln, speaks like and sounds like Lincoln probably sounded. Lincoln’s layered personality is accurately depicted, including his penchant for story-telling, his highly-honed skills as a politician and his feelings regarding slavery and democracy. His relationship with his wife Mary and his sons Tad and Robert is likewise represented in a dramatic and compelling manner. The only element that seems to have gotten short shrift is Lincoln’s religious views which became more and more integral to his speech and thoughts as the war neared an end.
There are several Oscar-worthy performances, including Day-Lewis as Lincoln, Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln and Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens. The actors who played Seward, Robert Todd Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant were also highly effective.
There were some flaws of a minor nature. The costumes and sets were all accurate, although they used nylon flags, rather than wool bunting (picky, picky, picky!). The actors who played Schuyler Colfax, George Pendleton and Fernando Wood did not look the part. We were waiting to see if Stanton would say “Now he belongs to the ages” at the time of Lincoln’s death or the more likely and accurate comment “Now he belongs to the angels.” They went with the traditional and perhaps more dramatic quote. There were also some contrived scenes which were inserted to provide some additional insight into the characters. These included a threatening harangue from Mary to her husband, delivered “sotto voce” at an opera performance, an encounter between President Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley on the White House porch soliciting the thoughts of both parties to the role regarding black people’s place in society after ratification of the 13th Amendment, and a unsettling physical encounter between the President and Robert outside a military hospital. Lincoln’s gift as a speaker and his immortal words are rather arbitrarily injected via the two scenes which serve as “bookends” for the movie. In the opening scene which takes place at a train depot or military encampment, Lincoln is harangued by a black soldier who complains about unequal pay and lack of promotion, followed by an encounter with two white soldiers who were “conveniently” present, as civilians, during the Gettysburg Address and are able to quote parts of it to an uncomfortable and impatient Lincoln. The last scene of the film, following the death-bed scene at the Peterson House, shows Lincoln delivering parts of his Second Inaugural Address.
This film has a great many things to commend itself and we urge all Railsplitters who have not already done so to see for themselves.
NOW AVAILABLE FROM THE RAIL SPLITTER PRESS:
Book Review Archive
- Act of Justice: Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the Law of War.
- The Dark Intrigue: The True Story of a Civil War Conspiracy.
- President Lincoln: the Duty of a Statesman.
- Lincoln’s Men: The President and His Private Secretaries.
- The Lincoln’s: Portrait of a Marriage.
- The Madness of Mary Lincoln.
- Lincoln the Inventor.
- Lincoln and New York.
Rail Splinters Archive
- Stereo view photographs of Abraham Lincoln statue damaged in 1906 San Francisco earthquake
- Lincoln in Film
- John Wilkes Booth? Probably not.
- Answer to the question “Whatever became of the Gillett collection?”
- What happened to the Gillette Collection?
- This Train is Bound for Glory
- Lincoln Ballots 1834-1864
- Lincoln Museum in Boise
- Lincoln at the Abolition Ball
- Where East Meets West
- A Prince of a Guy
- In Memoriam: C. Peter Scanlan
- Portrait of Lincoln Legal Associate Unearthed
- Thomas T. Eckert Archive: Telegraphic History of the Civil War
- Beethoven’s medium channels news of Lincoln’s Death by composing “The Funeral March”
- Where is Mary Todd Lincoln’s 1861 Inaugural Ball dress?
- The Meatball does The Sauceman (and The Rail Splitter) proud
- Lincoln “apparently not” a sexist
- Campaign woodcuts in illustrated magazines, symbolism or adornment?
- 1890 Wide-Awake Reunion program
- Baltimore Coin & Currency Convention Highlights
Past Print Issues