Daniel Day-Lewis Looms Over Museum Re-enactment Acting of Saving Lincoln

Saving Lincoln: You are not looking through a View-Master.
Saving Lincoln LLC
Saving Lincoln: You are not looking through a View-Master.

Here's one bit of luck enjoyed by Salvador Litvak's Saving Lincoln, the offest off-brand version of a story recently told by the biggest names and budgets in Hollywood: The tragic ending the material demands precludes viewers from complaining that the movie is the most unpleasant thing that could happen in a theater. That's not just because the tall shadow of Daniel Day-Lewis hangs over this, or because the acting and scripting are at the museum re-enactment level, or because in a key early scene the federal marshal charged with protecting the life of the 16th president actually says "Lincoln, I have been thinkin' " as if he's launching into some patter song interpolating "If I Only Had a Brain." No, the trouble here is that almost every shot is of starchily costumed actors in front of green-screened photographs of the White House, or Civil War battlefields, or cavernous, empty rooms. Imagine the stiffness of a Star Wars prequel but without the bravura technique. Foreground characters yammer on in muted color and the backgrounds yawn in flat black and white; the effect is something like if a theater troupe got hold of Ken Burns's stock photos and the projection technology employed by TV meteorologists. Stick with it, and you might find some moments rewarding: a climactic sing-along of "Dixie," or how Lincoln and General McClellan pause a shouting match so that a famous photo can be taken. But here's the best that can be said of Saving Lincoln: On occasion there's shots your eyes don't immediately reject. Gape at the trailer on YouTube.

 
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9 comments
Salvador_Litvak
Salvador_Litvak

Mr. Scherstuhl, I made Saving Lincoln within authentic photographs of the American Civil War. By combining elements of theater and cinema, we depict Commander-in-Chief Lincoln leading the nation through the entire war.

Saving Lincoln is the first feature film to do so since D.W Griffith's Abraham Lincoln (1930), and we did it from the perspective of Lincoln's closest friend in Washington, as well as his bodyguard, U.S. Marshal Ward Hill Lamon.

We captured the actors’ performances on a green screen stage and composited them into three-dimensional environments created from vintage, glass-plate negatives from the Library of Congress. We matched camera angles with the work of pioneering photographers like Mathew Brady and Alexander Gardner.

We purposely mixed black & white environments with color live-action, as well as a theatrical acting style, in order to create a film that is consistent with Ward Hill Lamon’s memory piece about Lincoln, and his own bold tone in his memoir, Recollections of Abraham Lincoln

It’s a unique film experience – one which invites the audience to bring their own memories, intelligence and emotions to bear on the cinematic moment. People are returning again and again because they relish this opportunity. We've received positive reviews from senior critics Michael Medved, Jeffrey Lyons, and Kirk Honeycutt, as well as Film Forward, Film Journal International, American History Magazine and noted Lincoln expert Harold Holzer. 

I invite your readers to judge for themselves. We are currently on iTunes and Tugg and will soon appear on Amazon.

MickieT
MickieT

I also disagree with this critic. Saving Lincoln was intriguing and I learned much more about Pres. Lincoln than from any other historical movie. The technique used with the photos was very cool. If he thinks this is the most unpleasant thing that can happen in a theater, which has hurt his eyes so mich he can't unsee it, then Mr. Scherstuhl needs to rethink his career choice. Wow. "Twilight," anyone? First of all, comparing an un-funded, indie film using experimental techniques with "The Spielberg Industrial Complex" is a silly and lazy way to judge a movie. By that measure, The Paper Bag Players version of "The Lion King" should be closed immediately because Disney already made a hit movie and musical with way better production values and songs.Secondly, criticizing 19th century American political drama because of "starchy costumes," Civil War photos and stuffy Victorian rooms is like saying milk is too white. We're you expecting?Finally, the substance of the movie itself is intriguing and fascinating, giving Lamon his much deserved day in the sun. This piece of history is such an overlooked one, it's a wonder we were never taught this in school! It's mch more interesting and revealing than the usual "four score and seven..." Lincoln sound bites that pass for historical research these days.

yulinka
yulinka

I just saw Saving Lincoln and definitely disagree with this review!  I found it to be a compelling film.  I appreciated the acting and the unusual visual approach.  I encourage others to see this film for themselves! 

pattywinn22
pattywinn22

Wow. Harsh.   Apparently you don’t have an appreciation for the innovation and original storytelling that is Saving Lincoln.  I loved this film.  It’s beautifully made, and historically accurate, a truly unique film that gives us a perspective on the period that no Lincoln film has provided before.  I  enjoyed the storytelling from the point of view of Ward Hill Lamon.  Through the eyes of this loyal, although unusual friend, the filmmakers are able to give us a unique insight into Lincoln’s humanity.  This is not the typical stoic Lincoln that is so hard to buy into.    I also saw the big budget Lincoln, and while many of the performances were riveting, the film is the same story we learned in elementary school.   Yawn.  I hope the Saving Lincoln filmmakers continue to make thoughtful, innovative films like this.  This film is a shinning gem in a mountain of the usual schlock.  This is by far, my favorite Lincoln.

irishreb3
irishreb3

With all due respect to Daniel Day Lewis, but with no respect for this acerbic reviewer whose use of the word "offest" shows his great depth of vocabulary, I will just say that Tom Amandes' performance shows much more of the real Lincoln than Daniel Day Lewis was able to do.Although Lewis’ is an award winning role as the world-weary and war-weary A. Lincoln in his last days shuffling down the hallways with shawl draped stooped shoulders; like any of us, there's a lot more to Abraham Lincoln than the last four months of his life.And yes, with the period photographs, I agree that one might think of Ken Burns, but is that a bad thing? 

The story and the acting by the fine cast pushes aside the non-Spielbergesque sets and locations, and pulls the viewers into the story.Yes, it would have been nice to be on location, and perhaps there are some things that I would change about certain sets and scenes, but I would change more on the Spielberg movie. “Saving Lincoln” will spark an interest with the real story......I know it did in Springfield! And it wasn't just me, it was a room full of people who know Lincoln better than most anyone on earth.  

My advice is to see the movie, let the characters take you to a black and white time with little full color, but lots of life ( and death).

Pleonic
Pleonic

"Lincoln" is a great epic movie, no doubt about that, but I'm looking forward to this smaller story too. The "buddy picture" of Lincoln and perhaps his best friend Lamon is a tale I never thought I'd see on film -- even though Lamon knew this man who supposedly saw himself as "clothed with awesome power" as intimately as anyone. As a Lincoln fan I am overjoyed that someone saw the power of the story and was able to get it produced as an indie film. Frankly, green screening it against authentic period photos strikes me as a genius move.  One other point: I've been a fan of Tom Amandes (Lincoln) since I saw him in "From the Earth to the Moon." I'm really looking forward to seeing him handle this acting challenge.

jjssweetladies
jjssweetladies

I believe that is a movie I want to go see. It gives you a real look into a different time. I am guessing that this offends the writer of this filth, who probably gives soft porn that comes out these days high ratings... This is something my family will want to see. Thanks to those who took the time to actually make a quality film, so much garbage is produced today, I am sure those that love to live in the landfills will not be able to watch, but those of us who walk along the roads of life will truely enjoy this tribute to real history!!!

Salvador_Litvak
Salvador_Litvak like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

Mr. Scherstuhl, thank you for taking a look at Saving Lincoln, and for inviting your readers to see the trailer for themselves. I believe the trailer captures our unique CinecCollage look quite well. It is a new and stylized look, and one which I stand behind with all my heart. 

I invite your readers to attend a theater screening this weekend, where they will see the film as audiences have now seen it in Springfield, IL, Washington, DC and LA over the past three days. Their response has been quite different from the one you describe in your review, particularly in terms of emotional content and the CineCollage experience. In Springfield, for example, a gathering of several hundred Lincoln experts and enthusiasts gave the film an extended standing ovation. It is difficult to reconcile that reaction with your review, which gives Saving Lincoln a 0 out of 100 on metacritic, so I invite you to take a second look as well.

 

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