Saving Lincoln

History intrigues me, and I have a passion for it, and always have.  As a young boy, I knew what an archaeologist was before I could spell it.  When asked in the 50s “What do you want to be when you grow up?” without hesitation I responded, “An archaeologist.”  While my friends read comic books, I read about Howard Carter’s work in Egypt at the Valley of the Kings and Henrich Schliemann’s unearthing of Troy.  Although my education and professional career took me in a different direction, I never lost my passion for history.

A dozen years ago as I researched and wrote Tobit and the Hoodoo Man, a Mystical Tale from the Civil War South, I learned about an independent film, “Saving Lincoln.”  As is often the case with independent films, the filmmaker could not sell his film for wide distribution in theaters or home video.

I thought about it yesterday and learned that “Saving Lincoln” is now available on several streaming platforms, so we watched it on Prime Video last night.

I was most interested in the filming technique – CineCollage – invented by the film’s director, Salvador Litvak.  To save costs, “Saving Lincoln” was filmed on a ‘green screen stage’ and the background was later filled in with vintage photographs from the Library of Congress.  The result is impressive.

“Saving Lincoln” recounts the relationship between Abraham Lincoln and his friend and bodyguard Ward Hill Lamon.  Lincoln is presented very humanly without the stuffiness and overbearing seriousness we’re accustomed to in most films.  This is a man who enjoys a good song strummed on a banjo yet is not immune from personal grief as casualties of the war build at an alarming rate.

In one of the final scenes as Lincoln speaks to a large audience outside the White House after the conclusion of the war, to everyone’s surprise – and shock – he asks the band to play “Dixie.”  He does it to unify the torn nation, not to shred it further apart.  My research confirms that this was an actual event. 

“Saving Lincoln” gave me much to consider given contemporary actions to suppress many historical figures and the sacrifices they made to preserve this nation.

As I look forward to “Masters of the Air” and “Dead Reckoning” this weekend, I am glad I took the time to watch Salvador Litvak’s simple yet effective film about a true American hero.  I strongly recommend “Saving Lincoln.”


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