Thus far this year we have seen Stephen Spielberg’s “Lincoln” and Bill O’Reilly’s “Killing Lincoln,” and now co-writer/director Salvador Litvak joins the stampede with “Saving Lincoln,” a feature film just released on Bluray and DVD.
“Saving Lincoln” employs two very good ideas. The first is to tell the true story of Ward Hill Lamon (Lea Coco), a one-time law partner of Abraham Lincoln’s (Tom Amandes) who would eventually become his chief bodyguard during Lincoln’s presidency. As the Civil War raged, the commander-in-chief faced several assassination attempts.
The other good idea was to use a process called CineCollage. This is a technique where everything but the actors, the wardrobe, and any props they use (tables, chairs, etc.) is shot against a green screen. Filling in the background (and in some cases the foreground) are highly stylized photos and animation. “Saving Lincoln” is the first feature film to use a technique that allows an epic story to be told on a limited budget.
Think of a much brighter-looking “Sin City,” but without the nudity and nihilism.
Even though we know where events will tragically lead, the story is still compelling. The actors give it their all (Penelope Ann Miller plays Mary Todd Lincoln, and Bruce Davison is a standout as Lincoln’s Secretary of State, William H. Seward). The CGI and the acting style do, though, give “Saving Lincoln” the feel of a stage play, more than a film.
But it is a consistent tone that works in a film that does lag in places but is also quite moving in others.
Best of all, politically, the film plays it straight. The story isn’t at all political, but it doesn’t shy away from the beliefs of the president at the center of the story — a man filled with faith, love of country, and a reverence for the men who fight that country’s wars.
“Saving Lincoln” is available at Amazon.com.