Lincoln in the Movies

This first video is perfect for a course on Lincoln and/or Civil War memory.  It provides a nice overview of how Lincoln has been interpreted in Hollywood movies and television since 1915.  The only reference that I was unfamiliar with is the recent short animation, Robot Chicken: Jedi in Chief, in which George W. Bush faces off against Lincoln.  Enjoy.

Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth

“Levin’s study is the first of its kind to blueprint and then debunk the mythology of enslaved African Americans who allegedly served voluntarily in behalf of the Confederacy.”–Journal of Southern History

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8 comments… add one
  • Peter Stam Jun 6, 2013 @ 12:42

    I once mentioned a few instances of Lincoln in commercials or recent movies on my blog.

    There’s a mountain Dew commercial, a disturbing scene in “extreme movie” and of course an American Dad episode about a Lincoln play (season 2, episode 4, titled “Lincoln Lover”).

  • TFSmith1 Jan 27, 2013 @ 17:12

    Interesting interpretations – Raymond Massey’ seems to have set the “stentorian” tone, with an assist by John Huston. There’s some discussion of the varied portrayals of Lincoln in Bruce Chadwick’s “The Reel Civil War,” which I am sure you have read.

    Personally, I found the fact that Bush kills the resurrected Lincoln in front of the Vietnam War Memorial particularly subversive; I believe those are actual names, if you slow it down.


  • Brendan Bossard Jan 27, 2013 @ 8:01

    I was intrigued by the scene depicting Sam Waterston’s Lincoln’s racism. It is a rare, but honest, depiction of a facet of Lincoln’s humanity in Hollywood. But it is clear to one who has read Lincoln’s writings and speeches, including the Lincoln-Douglas debates, that it was not the evil type of racism that leads to the belief that slavery is the proper state for black people. The fact that Frederick Douglass mourned Lincoln’s death says a lot in this regard.

    • Brendan Bossard Jan 27, 2013 @ 10:29

      I forgot to state what I originally intended to state, which is that Lincoln might not have won the presidency if he had run for office in this age of looking and sounding good. We are very fortunate that he lived in an age where the written word was king.

  • Joseph Adelman Jan 27, 2013 @ 4:38

    It’s striking to see (and more importantly, to hear) most of these Lincolns set against the Daniel Day-Lewis version. So many of the actors have or aim for a deep, rich baritone voice, as if Lincoln’s profound words must have been pronounced with equal vocal profundity. Makes for an interesting contrast between the Lincoln of memory and the Lincoln of history.

    • Kevin Levin Jan 27, 2013 @ 4:53

      I see quite a bit of Henry Fonda’s interpretation of Lincoln in Daniel Day-Lewis.

    • Buck Buchanan Jan 28, 2013 @ 10:58

      Its also why I kind of giggle when you hear George C. Scott’s throaty roar as George S. Patton. The original actually had a high, squeaky voice.

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