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The Better Angels (2014)

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The story of Abraham Lincoln's childhood in the harsh wilderness of Indiana and the hardships that shaped him, the tragedy that marked him for ever and the two women who guided him to immortality.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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...
...
...
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Abe
Cameron Williams ...
McKenzie Blankenship ...
Ryan McFall ...
...
Bruce Bayard ...
Uncle Thomas
...
Aunt Elizabeth
...
Reverend Elkins
Adam Marton Teters ...
Ben (as Adam Tetters)
Ida Joy ...
Young School Girl
Riley Brutvan ...
William
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Storyline

Indiana, 1817. The entire nation, only 40 years old and a few years removed from a second war of independence, is raw. Men, women, and children alike must battle nature and disease to survive in remote log cabins. This is young Abraham Lincoln's world. Spanning three years of the future president's childhood, The Better Angels explores his family, the hardships that shaped him, the tragedy that marked him forever, and the two women who guided him to immortality. Written by Amplify Releasing

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Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic elements and brief smoking
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Release Date:

7 November 2014 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Green Blade Rising  »

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Aspect Ratio:

2.40:1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The title comes from a quote from Abraham Lincoln's First Inaugural Address, concerning the then-seceding states in the South: "We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature." See more »

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User Reviews

Impressive in many ways.
19 November 2014 | by See all my reviews

"The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature." Abe Lincoln

If writer-director A. J. Edwards wanted to show in his biopic, The Better Angels, the influence of angelic women on young Abe Lincoln, he succeeded. This minimalist, dialogue-spare depiction of Lincoln's early life in the woods of Indiana is rife with beautiful shots of trees and sunlight, not to mention a pristine cabin, but mostly it is filled with the love and direction given by Nancy (Brit Marling) and Sarah Lincoln (Diane Kruger).

Not much to do out there in the frontier but cut wood and think about ways to be a better human being. While the women chat with Abe about life, Tom Lincoln (Jason Clarke), his dad, contributes a considerable amount to Abe's tough mindedness, largely by testing Abe's patience with dad's harsh discipline.

While this less-than-epic activity occurs, it is encased in gorgeous photography, black and white crisp, with light streaming through tall trees, frequently at low angle to emphasize the child's point of view. You could almost say it's a copy of Terrence Malick's work, and you'd be right because the ethereal cinematography of that master (Tree of Life, Badlands, for example) no doubt influenced Edwards, whose film is produced by Malick and with whom he has worked.

On the other hand, the poetic images could be off putting for those who accuse Malick of being pretentious or just interested in painting rather than telling a story. I go where a director wants to take me—in this case, to a lyrical feeling about the early life of an immortalized leader.

Although The Better Angels is mostly impressionism, symbolic shots couched in terse language, be it by actors or voice-over, the picture of young Abe up to his rural schooling seems spot on for the intense, brilliant, iconic president we have come to know. I'm impressed.

"All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother" Abe Lincoln


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