Killing Lincoln Blu-ray Review
As a kid I was transfixed on two things: playing baseball and political assassinations. Perhaps it’s because I know my mom and dad always spoke reverently of President Kennedy (I was three when he was killed) and that I still vividly remember the days that Dr. King and Robert Kennedy were shot. As I got older I would devour books on the subject, including those that dealt with the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. In 2011, talk show host Bill O’Reilly co-authored a book on the death of Abraham Lincoln titled, simply, “Killing Lincoln.” I found it to be an entertaining read, though some people did quibble with a few factual errors (a date being off by one year, referring to the Oval Office when it hadn’t yet been designed (the Oval Office, opened under President Taft, became the President’s official office in 1909, four-plus decades after Lincoln’s death. Now a film, narrated by Tom Hanks, has been made of the film. And it’s a must see for anyone with a fascination with history.
History tells us that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865 (he actually died early the next morning) while attending a performance of “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theater in Washington D.C. KILLING LINCOLN not only tells this story but also gives a very detailed look into both the president and the man who shot him, actor John Wilkes Booth. It also gives some insight into other plots that were hatched against Lincoln and how close some of them came to success. The film is even handed in handling its two main characters. Where often times Booth is portrayed as a crazy man looking for immortality who couldn’t cut it as an actor, here he is shown as a man who personally blamed Abraham Lincoln for the bloody Civil War. He did think he and his co-conspirators would be hailed as heroes by those vanquished by the Union but that was not his ulterior motive. As in Steven Spielberg’s Academy Award winning LINCOLN, the president is presented as a gentle man whose only dream was to end the war and bring our country together. Sadly, there is no mention of any vampire hunting. Both actors do a credible job of portraying two very larger than life characters. Campbell (THE ROCKETEER) gives Lincoln the same quiet strength portrayed by Daniel Day-Lewis in Speilberg’s film As Booth, Johnson (REDLINE) gets under the skin of the killer. Even though what he’s planning to do is wrong you can understand the method to Booth’s madness thanks to Johnson’s performance. Tom Hanks appears on screen as the narrator of the project and lends the required gravitas to the role.
The production values are first rate, with period locations created with painstaking skill. Last fall O’Reilly and his co-author, Martin Dugard, released the book “Killing Kennedy,” which is currently being filmed with Rob Lowe as JFK and Genifer Goodwin as Jacqueline Kennedy. If it’s as entertaining as this film it could be the start of a whole new career for the political pundit.
KILLING LINCOLN BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: Originally presented on the National Geographic Channel, the film has a nice, dark look about it. The main story picture is sharp and clear. However, the inserts of Tom Hanks are soft, as if they had not been filmed in HD.
Audio: Presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, the sound comes through loud and clear. There are several busy scenes (battle field visits, crowds of people assembling to see the president) and the audio is sharp with no distortions.
Commentary: Erik Jendresen, the film’s screenwriter and Executive Producer, gives an informative look in the making of the film.
An Interview with author Bill O’Reilly (5:04): The popular Fox-television star talks about why he wrote the book, his opinion of the film and shares a story about President Obama inviting him to the White House to see Lincoln’s handwritten notes for the Gettysburg Address.
Uncovering the Truth: The Making of “Killing Lincoln” (22:22): An in-depth making of featurette.
Lincoln in Virginia (00:17): A quick promotional tourism commercial.
Promotional Features (10:28): A series of short pieces featuring the cast and director Moat talking about the film.