As Tim Burton produced historical fantasy horror Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter does good business at the box office, let us avert our gaze from its neck- chopping ways to the daddy of all films about the 16th president of the United States of America. Released in 1930, Abraham Lincoln directed by DW Griffith (Birth of a Nation, Broken Blossoms) was this legendary and controversial filmmaker’s first sound film. Adapted from an idea by Washington born film producer John W Considine Jr by poet and writer Stephen Vincent Benet (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, The Devil and Daniel Webster), Abraham Lincoln was very much the prototype for political biopics like Gandhi.
Episodic in structure the film takes its structure from brief vignettes of Lincoln’s life from his birth, poverty stricken early life, his early romantic interest in Ann Rutledge (and her subsequent death from typhoid), his courtship of Mary Todd and the Lincoln-Douglas debates. It is his presidency and the Civil War that consume most of the second half of the film which predicatably concludes with that assassination. Whether you know a lot about Lincoln or nothing at all, it’s a fascinating, giddy ride, one that’s delivered in the very economical (for Griffith) time of 90 minutes. Sink your teeth into some presidential gold today.