Some people were expecting the worst from National Geographic’s Killing Lincoln, for two reasons: Bill O’Reilly’s book of the same title was littered with inaccuracies, and the production team of Ridley and Tony Scott, along with director Adrian Moat, recently produced one of the most inept and historically insulting documentaries ever made, Gettysburg, back in 2011. Hosted and narrated by Tom Hanks, this is a docudrama which surpasses Gettysburg, distances itself slightly from the book, yet at the same time, does not adequately deliver the entertainment one would expect here, which I will address later. Billy Campbell, whose other Civil War-era film, Copperhead, is slated to be released in June, does a decent job as President Abraham Lincoln. It would be absolutely unfair to compare him to Daniel Day-Lewis, so on his own he is fine. The performance is very calm, quiet, and subdued and I have no problem with the voice he used, which is not accurately high-pitched, but also is not the typical Hollywood deep voice we have heard over the years. The production team used Campbell and his talents as best as they could. However, considering that this film is about killing Lincoln, and Lincoln dies just after the midway point, it did leave a lot to be desired.
Ah, the wonders of Hollywood: Billy Campbell goes from playing a stubborn farmer diametrically opposed to Abraham Lincoln in the soon-to-be-released Copperhead, to portraying the president himself, in the upcoming television film, Killing Lincoln, airing on National Geographic next month, based on a book by Bill O’Reilly. This will serve as the network’s first ever scripted drama, while there will be some narration, provided by Tom Hanks. Though I have only seen the trailer, released yesterday, I must say that my hopes now are a little bit higher than they were when this project was first announced, mainly because the same producer (Ridley Scott) and director (Adrian Moat) gave us that brutally awful Gettysburg documentary for the History Channel last year. I shuddered to think at the same duo handling another portion of American history. However, after reading the script (which was current at the time I read it) several months ago, and because Nat-Geo is still reputable (at least more so than the other network), I will be willing to give this a shot, and them the benefit of the doubt.
Thanks to a source involved with the production of the Ridley & Tony Scott-produced documentary slated for a 2013 release on National Geographic titled Killing Lincoln, I was able to view the working script over the last couple of days so I could give an early opinion on what this special is going to be like. When I first posted about this a few months ago, I noted how I had only skimmed through parts of the book, written by Bill O’Reilly, and mentioned how entertaining I thought it was, though one could tell it was not authored by a historian. I did not think it was bad, until some glaring historical inaccuracies were pointed out to me. Nevertheless, this documentary has a chance to fix some of those errors, while giving us a dose of both history and entertainment, not sacrificing one for the other. While I have taken a look at my fair share of film scripts, this was definitely a new experience for me because of insertions of voice-over narrations and breaks in the action for historians to come into the frame and speak. It took a while to get used to.
Well, look at that: three Lincoln-related posts in a row, though I hope this will be more accurate than Honest Abe hunting vampires and zombies…
This may not be “news”, but it just came to my attention, thanks to an actor I know who is auditioning for the part of Abraham Lincoln in this documentary project for National Geographic slated to air in 2013, and be produced by Ridley and Tony Scott. This special will be based on the best-selling book Killing Lincoln, by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, which examines the events leading up to the president’s assassination and immediately following it. I was actually given this book as a gift last November by one of my students following the conclusion of a middle school-level twelve-week elective course on the Civil War I taught, and although I was very happy to receive such a gift, I just could not bring myself to read anything written by Bill O’Reilly, a personality which I do not care for. However, over time, I eventually skimmed through it, and I must admit, I enjoyed it.
We have come to expect shows on [once-]reputable networks such as Monsterquest and Finding Bigfoot to never actually find anything, nor bear any relevancy to the channel they represent and embarrass to the world, but one might expect something a little bit different from an institute like National Geographic. I was just going through my DVR tonight to watch a few specials that I taped over the last few months, the first being Finding the Lost Da Vinci from early March, and the second from last week, Search for the Head of John the Baptist. Though they both had an interesting premise and quest, once again we are let down as we are all too often, with the delusions of grandeur we see in the advertisements, then the caliber of the program bearing slightly more fruit than the Blair Witch Project.
With the May 24 release of the Gettysburg and Gods and Generals Director’s Cuts less than two months away, I figured I would share with you an even better look at what the DVD sets will look like for the July 5 release of the “Limited Collector’s Edition”. Many people have asked why the May releases will only be on Blu Ray, because they only have DVD players. Rest assured, the LCE will be available in both Blu Ray and DVD format. This really looks like a fantastic set, and is something I will have to purchase along with the two regular editions which will be in “Blu Ray Book” packaging form. I would like to thank one of my readers, Chris, for sending me this picture:
As you can see, this set is going to be much more than just the films. It comes with the 32-page Time Civil War book, as previously mentioned, but also an additional book on artifacts from the war. Then there will be a map from National Geographic as well as a commemorative Abraham Lincoln Coin. The sets will be sequentially numbered to 100,000.
My plan will be to buy the two Blu Ray editions in May (just because eight years has been a long enough wait, and I don’t want to have to go another two months), then ask for the LCE for my birthday, which is ironically on July 2, the anniversary of the second day’s fighting at Gettysburg. However, I will need the DVD version of that instead, just because I plan on using this for when I start teaching, and schools have not yet been upgraded with Blu Ray technology.
Click here to view the back of the Gods and Generals DVD case.