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|Index||15 reviews in total|
For over fifty years, I have been intrigued with the story of the
Lincoln assassination. For the past thirty-eight years, I have lived
with it on a day-to-day basis as first a volunteer and then director of
the Surratt House Museum in Clinton, Maryland. During that time, I have
worked with researchers, authors, journalists, and a variety of film
makers from the old In Search Of series, Unsolved Mysteries, History
Channel productions, and more - including The Conspirator movie
directed by Robert Redford.
Through those years, I have waited patiently for someone to give an accurate, detailed account based on the facts of the Lincoln conspiracy. I finally have seen the best depiction to date with Killing Lincoln. Thank you to all the writers, directors, cast members, and production staff who finally took the time to get the story right. It's an event that came at the end of a horrible war and changed the course of American history. With skillful writing, directing, and acting - and with the excellent guiding narrative by Tom Hanks, my waiting patiently has paid off. Thanks to all.
Killing Lincoln (2013)
*** (out of 4)
Tom Hanks hosts and narrates this docu-drama about the final days in the life of Abraham Lincoln (Billy Campbell) who would be assassinated by John Wilkes Booth (Jesse Johnson) and change American history forever. Hanks starts off quickly talking about how history has shown Lincoln as a martyr but then mentions that a minute before his death he really wasn't all that popular. This approach isn't something most documentaries take but it pretty much goes away from anything new and instead just tells us the assassination story again. Last year I watched quite a few documentaries on the Civil War and Lincoln so I've become well versed in the subject. This film here is certainly worth watching but at the same time I do question if it was really necessary to do the film like this. We'll see quick re-enactment of events and then we'll flashback to Hanks who is usually sitting in a chair. He will then tell us something about the events going on (ala.. Lincoln has 12 hours to live) and then we go back to the footage. I think the film probably would have worked just as well had it been done as a straight movie without the narration. I also think it would have been great had Hanks just narrated the entire story. As it is the film is entertaining but I think at times we never really connect with the re-enactments and I think Billy Campbell really gets hosed because he never really gets to come to life as Lincoln. It seems most of Lincoln's greatness is told through the narration so the acting of Campbell really doesn't have much of a part to do. On the other hand, Johnson is simply wonderful in the role of Booth and really manages to steal the film. While the subject might be about Lincoln, the actor makes the greatest attention go to the murderer. The look of the film was quite nice even with the obvious at times CGI. History buffs are certainly going to enjoy this and I think the best thing is how is breaks down what was going on the day of the assassination.
If you watch this movie, you will know the facts of the events leading
to, the events of, and the results of Abraham Lincoln's assassination.
This is most excellently performed.
The actors who portrayed both Lincoln (Billy Campbell) & Booth (Jesse Johnson) performed A plus roles. Both actors conveyed the feel of the age and the personality of both historical persons as history has made them known to us. Excellent. Johnson for sure deserves an award. Watching his performance, you will feel that you know Booth.
If you are at all interesting in these events, watch this movie. You will be well educated, informed, and entertained. In this modern day, such a combination is rare, indeed.
In the highest minded rationale, this is as good an expression of the TV art as there can be.
Killing Lincoln educates its audience with the history of Lincoln's assassination without exaggerating or dramatizing any aspects of the tragedy. Tom Hanks narrates the film, which tended to make it a bit boring at times, but it was also necessary to inform the viewer with as much history as possible. The movie also introduced some details of the situation that I wasn't familiar with beforehand. For instance, when I think of John Wilkes Booth, I immediately associate him with Lincoln's death. However, the movie revolves around Booth and his acting career, which gave me a better idea of Booth's identity. I was also interested by the scene where Lincoln told the freed slave, "You are a free citizen; kneel to no one but God." It showed Lincoln's true character and emphasized his humility. Although historical dramas don't usually interest me, I enjoyed watching Killing Lincoln.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The assassination of the 16th US President Abraham Lincoln might had
been one of the most-documented moments in the history of the United
States, but there are also conspiracies on what led to what would be
remembered in history as the first successful assassination on an
It began with the person who had successfully did so in actor John Wilkes Booth along with his co-conspirators hatching the plan to not only assassinate Lincoln, but also key members of his administration in Vice-President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William Seward. Booth, who was already a prominent theatre actor in his day, had a genuine dislike for Lincoln. But assassinating the president who freed the slaves, something which Booth detested, was not originally in his plan. His original plan was to just kidnap Lincoln in order to demand release of captured Confederate soldiers.
As for Lincoln, along with the story of Booth's, it concurrently charted the key moments leading up to the end of the American Civil War. It was 10 days before the day of the assassination happened, Lincoln had a dream of a body lying in a coffin in the middle of the White House and people were mourning the death of the person. When he asked who had died, he got the reply that it was the president.
While that was the biggest indicator of what was to come at Ford's Theater, the docu-drama had also mentioned that there had been assassination plots on Lincoln throughout his presidency, but they were always being discovered. It was suggested that it came as a result of the level of dislike and hatred towards him, which was not seen on such a scale during the Civil War. Before the dream Lincoln had took place, the most prominent attempt came when Lincoln, all alone, was riding his horse to the War Department where his horse was being shot.
History has always has a knack of pinpointing people into various labels, but despite Booth's hatred of Lincoln is well-documented; he was actually born in the state of Maryland which did not ceded from the Union. But it was also fascinating watching how those who witnessed the assassination had actually varying accounts from each other, such that there is no official account of what happened.
Whatever one's views of the assassination is, the docu-drama is definitely worth your time.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Back in the early Seventies I researched a college history class
assignment on the assassination of Lincoln and was surprised about
everything I learned at the time that wasn't common knowledge. "Killing
Lincoln" is even more of an eye opener as it delves into the conspiracy
headed by actor John Wilkes Booth, a Southern zealot who had a
fanatical hatred for the President. What started out as a kidnap plot
to exchange Lincoln for captured Confederate soldiers became a scheme
to debilitate the federal government by killing the President, Vice
President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William Henry Seward.
In regards to the overall documentary, the effort appears to be exhaustively researched and well presented. However I take issue with narrator Tom Hanks who states that this was the 'most resonant crime in the history of the nation'. Surely Hanks was alive when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on the streets of Dallas, and in terms of 'resonance' for modern day viewers, I think Hanks' claim might have been made more for effect than for accuracy. By saying this I don't mean to imply that Lincoln's death was any less horrific or consequential, but in the 1860's it often took news of events a number of days or even weeks to travel across a smaller country than we have today. Additionally, it's made clear that Lincoln was hated by many, even some within his own party, whereas Kennedy enjoyed a popularity during his brief presidency that will probably never be rivaled again.
So that's just a minor nit-pick I had with the picture. Though some other reviewers here expressed dissatisfaction with the principals who portrayed Lincoln (Billy Campbell) and Booth (Jesse Johnson), I don't think I ever gave it a second thought. This is a documentary one goes into to learn the facts behind an historical event, so I wasn't looking for or expecting an Oscar caliber performance. The principal players did a credible job backed up by supporting cast that handled their roles well.
So overall, an excellent documentary that provides a springboard for those with more than a passing interest in the death of the sixteenth president. Behind the mere fact of Lincoln's assassination lies an entire saga relating to those responsible and the measures they took on the tragic night of April 14th, 1865.
The tragedy of President Abraham Lincoln's death is narrated in this film by Tom Hanks. I found Hanks to be an appropriate narrator, as he has a powerful voice and was confident in himself, making the movie easier to watch. However, I did not particularly like the actor for Booth. You could tell that he was acting, it wasn't a convincing performance. Regardless, the historical facts are all highly accurate, with little to no aspects of the film exaggerated. I would suggest this movie to anyone interested in learning more about the presidents death, as you are walked through the events, and can rely on the accuracy of the facts. Moreover, I was a fan of the fact that periodically throughout the movie, the number of days Lincoln had left to live were announced. A fact that I was unaware of prior to watching the film was that Lincoln had a dream a few days before his assassination, of his own death.
I think that this is a good movie. As for myself not being a huge documentary fan, that aspect of he film wasn't so much to my liking. I wish it had been more of a movie with a plot and storyline, without all of the narrating. However for the purpose that I was to watch it (a history class assignment) I learned a lot through it, and despite my negative feelings toward he narration, Tom Hanks does a wonderful job setting the viewer up and giving them a sufficient amount of background knowledge to be able to understand the happenings of the movie. Also at some points throughout the movie, the way that certain scenes were filmed seemed a bit shaken almost, unprofessional-like. Now whether that was done on purpose or not, I was not very pleased with that. I did like the way that before a new event began in the movie, or a new scene, the time, place and date were shown. Again providing the viewer with background information so they don't get too lost in following the story. As for the story itself, the story of the assassination of President Lincoln, in my opinion, was told very well through this movie. I liked the way that it seemed to take an objective approach and just told the story how it happened, without seeming to really advocate for either side more than the other. It was very informative and I thought that the casting was done well too. John Wilkes Booth's character especially fit, I think, because he just seems creepy the whole way through the movie, with his mustache and the journal entries he writes of his self justification for the terrible thing he has done. All in all I think that this movie was a good movie, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about the story of Lincoln's assassination or who particularly enjoy historical documentaries.
Unike the highly acclaimed, and deservedly so, Spielberg film
"Lincoln", this film goes behind the assassin John Wilkes Booth and his
wish not only to kill the president, but also to overthrow the American
government. The story behind the shot at Ford's Theater which killed
Abraham Lincokn on April 14th 1865.
The story is a docudrama, narrated by Tom Hanks, telling about the attempts to kill Lincoln from right months before, until they managed to do so. Interesting film, made for National a geographic Channel, especially for use to historically accuracy and for educational use, based on the best selling book with the same name by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard. The film is made as accurate as possible, and that down to where people stood on photos, and it is made as a hybrid movie, which jumps out and in of the story, while also using time to dwell in photos and Tom Hanks as the story teller. Hanks is a descendant of Lincoln, hence Nancy Hanks actually was the name of Abraham Lincoln's mother.
Not only Lincoln was killed on this night, but it was a conspiracy not unlike a coup d'Etat, when Booth run up on the stage seconds after the killing shouting "Sic semper tyrannis" from the stage afterwards. (So dies a tyrant.) After that starts the biggest man hunt in American history as well.
Well worth a watch, and great stuff for usage for educational use, but also compelling watch off others who wants an accurate history telling.
Based on Bill O'Reilly's book of the same name, this is a documentary of Abraham Lincoln (Billy Campbell) and John Wilkes Booth (Jesse Johnson) as they head into the history books. Coming so close to Daniel Day-Lewis' amazing performance, Billy Campbell is unable to measure up. Booth is suppose to be a great actor. I wish they got somebody more well known than Jesse Johnson. He does a capable job but he needs a more powerful presence. The surprise comes from Tom Hanks' narration. When it first starts, I thought it was a grave mistake. After some time, his narration grows on me. And I really like the constant repetition of "Lincoln has ______ to live". It's a great way to build tension as the clock counts down. The production is good for a TV movie. I can't really vouch for its academic accuracy. I do wish for more on Booth. Lincoln's story could be trimmed but there is a good sequence of him visiting Richmond after its fall. It's a good watch.
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