Poster ID: CL38421
Original Title: Abraham Lincoln ( re-release 1937 )
English Title: Abraham Lincoln
Year of Poster: 1930s
Actor/Artist/Director: Walter Huston, Una Merkel, Ian Keith, Kay Hammond, William L. Thorne, Helen Freeman, dir. D.W. Griffith
Studio: Artcinema Associates
Country of Poster: American
Country of Film: American
Condition: Very Good
Notes: D.W. Griffith's first sound film is this ambitious portrait of the life of Abraham Lincoln, one of the greatest figures in American history. It covers the whole of Lincoln's life, from his birth, his humble upbringing, his early career, his entry into politics, his marriage, his period in office as President of the USA, and his assassination by John Wilkes Booth. Although Griffith's use of sound is awkward and at times jarring (the homespun dialogue even more so), his masterful camerawork and ability to convey emotion through image makes this an attractive film.
Admittedly, the film doesn't have the hold that the director's previous silent masterpieces have, and compared with Birth of a Nation and Orphans of the Storm it feels pretty bland. However, Walter Huston gives a magnificent portrayal of Lincoln, capturing the great man's love of his country and the individuals who brought meaning to his life. Where the film is strongest is its depiction of the American Civil War not just the stirring images of soldiers marching off to war and the impressive panoramic battle scenes, but also the quieter moments where Lincoln and others reflect on the intolerable human cost of the war. By showing Lincoln as a comparatively modest man with an aching conscience, the film brings home his immense, unwavering humanity, which was most likely the source of his greatness as a leader of men.
After an unsuccessful first release, the film was cut from two hours to 97 minutes. It was to be Griffith's last money-spinner. His final film, The Struggle, would prove to be a financial disaster, an ignominious end to the career of one of the greatest of American
Made in 1915, BIRTH OF A NATION was the first masterpiece of cinema, bringing to film the status accorded to the visual and performing arts. A story of the Civil War, BIRTH OF A NATION captured the violence, the spectacle, and the excitement of the war. Using extreme and dramatic camera angles and complexly interweaved edits, the film brought an event to life unlike any film had done before. The film, however beautiful, was a sad testament to the deep prejudice of the times and black audiences were outraged by the racist distortion of history. Viewed as a contributor to the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, the film caused riots in a number of black communities.
Griffith's next film, INTOLERANCE (1916) was, paradoxically, a plea for brotherhood and understanding as well as a polemic against the radical social reformers who had demanded that THE BIRTH OF A NATION be censored. The film marked a new standard in film spectacle and in narrative complexity, intertwining four separate stories from four different historical eras. Following INTOLERANCE with BROKEN BLOSSOMS (1919) and WAY DOWN EAST (1920) Griffith solidified his reputation as America's preeminent director. He continued to reinvent the language of film, astounding people with epic stories, simultaneous narratives, sophisticated set design.
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