Killing Lincoln

Killing Lincoln (2013)

Documentary, Drama

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National Geographic-Killing Lincoln [2013]

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Killing Lincoln (2013)

Air Date: 17 Feb 2013

Summary: Narrated by Tom Hanks. National Geogrphic's ΓÇ£Killing LincolnΓÇ¥ is based on the book by Bill OΓÇÖReilly and Martin Dugard, puts its focus just where the title suggests: on the final days of LincolnΓÇÖs life and the pursuit of those behind the assassination. And yes, for anyone who canΓÇÖt get enough of the 16th president, on Sunday it will be possible to arrange a Lincoln trifecta, seeing ΓÇ£Lincoln,ΓÇ¥ Salvador LitvakΓÇÖs new film; ΓÇ£Saving LincolnΓÇ¥ (about the presidentΓÇÖs bodyguard); and ΓÇ£Killing LincolnΓÇ¥ in a single day. Happy belated birthday, Abe. 

ΓÇ£Killing LincolnΓÇ¥ mixes narration with re-enactments to tell a ticktock version of John Wilkes BoothΓÇÖs plot to kill the president. 

The general story of how Booth and his co-conspirators tried to cripple the government ΓÇö by simultaneously killing the president, Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William H. Seward ΓÇö is well known, but ΓÇ£Killing LincolnΓÇ¥ does a pretty good job of conjuring the actual attacks, surely among the most shocking few hours in American history. (Seward was seriously wounded but lived; JohnsonΓÇÖs would-be attacker got cold feet.) 

One thing that stands out, especially given that this was the first assassination of an American president, is the clear-headed response of a particular cabinet member in the hour after the 10:13 p.m. shooting at FordΓÇÖs Theater, when Lincoln, still alive, had been taken to a boardinghouse. 

ΓÇ£Shortly after 11 p.m.,ΓÇ¥ Mr. Hanks relates, ΓÇ£Secretary of War Edwin Stanton sets up a headquarters in the back parlor of the house and establishes relays between there and the War Department telegraph operators. He alerts General Grant and calls him back to Washington, issues emergency directives to police and military authorities, orders the National Detective Police to initiate a manhunt for the as-yet-unknown assassin and notifies Vice President Johnson that the president is dying.ΓÇ¥ 

The ticktock technique, often effective in print, has a ghoulish breathlessness to it on film ΓÇö Mr. Hanks repeatedly reminds us how long Lincoln and then Booth had to live. But those who can overlook that will find a wealth of detail here that brings the tale to life. 

ItΓÇÖs no secret that Booth broke his leg, either when he jumped from LincolnΓÇÖs box or when his horse fell later, but here we learn that it was ΓÇ£a clean break of his fibula, two inches above the instep of his left foot.ΓÇ¥ 

We learn, too, that Dr. Charles A. Leale, the surgeon who was the first to treat Lincoln and stayed with him for the nine hours until he died, was just 23. We learn that the ΓÇ£wantedΓÇ¥ posters for the conspirators were the first to use photographs of suspects and that James Tanner, the stenographer who began taking witness testimony almost immediately after the shooting, was a Civil War veteran who had lost both legs in battle. 

Small things, perhaps, but the difference between dry history and history lived by actual human beings. In the filmΓÇÖs final moments we see some of those human beings: photographs of BoothΓÇÖs co-conspirators, made after they were taken into custody. ItΓÇÖs an eerie, effective flourish. 


Billy Campbell ... Abraham Lincoln
Jesse Johnson ... John Wilkes Booth
Geraldine Hughes ... Mary Todd Lincoln
Kam Dabrowski ... James Tanner 

Brett Dalton ... Robert Todd Lincoln
Graham Beckel ... Edwin Stanton
Eleanor Perkinson ... Clair Harris 

Todd Fletcher ... Edman Spangler 

Shawn Pyfrom ... Pvt. John W. Nichols 

Johnathan Tchaikovsky ... Crawford 

Matt Hackman ... Charles Leale 

Vince Nappo ... Harry Hawk 

Lance Lemon ... William Bell 

Jeremy Ambler ... George Robinson 

Jim Batchelder ... Southern spy 
National Geographic-Killing Lincoln [2013]/National Geographic-Killing Lincoln [2013].avi 733.51 MB
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