Friday, October 10, 2008

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln / Abraham Lincolns liv. US (c) 1930 Feature Productions. EX: Joseph M. Schenck. P+D: D.W. Griffith. SC: Stephen Vincent Benet, Gerrit J. Lloyd - based on the story by John W. Considine, Jr. DP: Karl Struss. AD: William Cameron Menzies. M: Hugo Riesenfeld. CAST: Walter Huston (Abraham Lincoln), Kay Hammond (Mary Todd Lincoln), Una Merkel (Ann Rutledge), Fred Warren (General Ulysses S. Grant), Hobart Bosworth (General Robert E. Lee), Frank Campeau (General Philip Sheridan), Henry B. Walthall (Colonel Marshall). 93 min. Print: MoMA, three sections missing soundtrack. Viewed at Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone, Cinema Verdi, 10 October 2008. - Mostly excellent visual quality, some sections looked like 16mm blowups, partly missing soundtrack. - I saw this film for the first time and liked it. Yes, the Ann Rutledge scenes are hammy, but true feeling shines through the clumsiness and the bad makeup. - DWG takes a humoristic look into the great man, just as John Ford did in Young Mr. Lincoln. - Kay Hammond is good as his harridan wife. - The Civil War and its generals are seen on a human scale. - Walter Huston gets better and better during the picture, and the assassination is shocking after his touching speech. In the last images we see the shack where Lincoln was born and the Lincoln monument, and hear The Battle Hymn of the Republic, but we have seen the human being from the cradle to the grave. - This is a folklore version of Lincoln. - There is a strong storyline: the Union must be preserved. - DWG's dear quotes: the Southerners were "rebels, not traitors"; "deal with them as though they'd never been away". - On Grant: "find out what brand he drinks and send a barrel to all our other generals" [Old Crow seems to have been that victorious brand]. - Not the best film of the Festival, nor a masterpiece, but my favourite film of the Festival. It is the portrait of the peacemaker. It is easy to stir violence, it is hard to stop it. - Today Matti Ahtisaari got the Nobel prize, and for a Finn there are certain similarities between Lincoln and Ahtisaari: both have shown strength of character in putting an end to civil wars. - This year in Finland we have the 90th anniversary of our civil war, still a sensitive theme, and we can understand how Americans feel about theirs.

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