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Films >> Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940) >>

Abraham Lincoln (1930) (also known as D.W. Griffith's Abraham Lincoln)
This 1930 D. W. Griffith's classic is one of the first films on Lincoln and one of only two that portrays Lincoln throughout his entire life. The film begins in Lincoln's early years in New Salem and continues through to his assassination after the end of the Civil War. It is a very early depiction of Lincoln, and we see him in a boyish light. Griffith makes his relationship with Ann Rutledge more romantic than some other Lincoln films, and he spends almost half of his time on Lincoln's presidency. This film clearly helps to create the Lincoln myth, and the nice guy, down-home image that Griffith gives to Lincoln is one that is perpetuated over and over again in Lincoln films.
W. (2008)
Directed by Oliver Stone, this film is a biopic about George W. Bush. It traces his life through flashbacks, which begin during his fraternity days at Yale, trace his marriage to Laura, his alcoholism, and the beginning of his political career. The flashbacks take place during his presidency, while he is making decisions about invading Iraq, and he is made to look like he is clueless about foreign policy. While all of his advisors try to lead him in the right direction, Bush makes choices the viewer knows are not the best. The film makes Bush look stupid and uninformed; however, the viewer is sympathetic to him because he is under immense pressure from the elder Bush. He is driven, but somewhat misguided, and although we don't really like him, we want to. It is not a film like Abe Lincoln in Illinois; it doesn't build up Bush into a mythic figure we all want to love. But it does cover the same time period in his young life and goes further to cover his presidency.
Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)
In this John Ford classic, Abraham Lincoln is a small town lawyer defending a pair of wrongly accused brothers on murder charges. The story is mostly fictional, as this particular case never actually occurred, but the viewer can get a sense for Lincoln the lawyer. In this film he is portrayed in much the same way that he is in Abe Lincoln in Illinois -- as a slow-talking, humble guy who wants to do the right thing. We see him in his trademark tall top hat, and the moviegoer sees a film that helps to create and solidify the iconic image of Lincoln that American's hold dear. The plot is an interesting snapshot of a very specific moment in Lincoln's life, when he is an up-and-coming lawyer and politician in his early days in Springfield. The most important aspect of the film is the character building it does, and the viewer can see why the modern image of Lincoln is as it is.

See Also

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)

JFK (1995)

Lincoln (2012)

Lincoln (1988) (also known as Gore Vidal's Lincoln)

Nixon (1995)