Saving Lincoln: Film Review

Saving Lincoln Still - H 2013

Saving Lincoln Still - H 2013

Little-heard angle on Lincoln lore is for hardcore history buffs only.

Historical photos provide the backdrop for a green screen-shot take on Abraham Lincoln's presidency.

The Abraham Lincoln caravan gets one tiny wagon longer with Salvador Litvak's Saving Lincoln, a micro-budget film whose niche is even smaller than that for recent films pitting Honest Abe against the undead. A curiosity telling the President's story through the eyes of longtime friend Ward Hill Lamon, it's of interest only to serious history-hounds and techies curious about its unusual green-screen production.

Lamon (Lea Coco), a former law colleague who made himself personally responsible for Lincoln (Tom Amandes) as his political career grew, is seen here fending off all manner of nefarious schemes; while Lincoln wages war, Lamon uncovers assassination plots involving everything from Yellow Fever to loosed carriage bolts -- the latter of which injured Lincoln's wife (Penelope Ann Miller), but missed him entirely.

Miller is among the bigger names in a cast whose talent level varies wildly. Coco, the film's star, offers a stiffly earnest performance; Amandes, with Daniel Day Lewis's gravitas looming in the viewer's mind, looks like Mister Rogers in a stovepipe hat.

The film's key novelty is what producers are calling CineCollage, a compositing scheme that slices-and-dices historical photographs to build 3D environments for action shot entirely on a green-screen stage. Though far less effective in visual terms than cousins like Sin City or Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, the film does benefit in a strange way from the imagery. Unfortunately for Saving Lincoln, that value seems most appropriate for the kind of short, low-budget films exhibited in history museums.

Production Company: Pictures From The Fringe
Cast: Tom Amandes, Lea Coco, Penelope Ann Miller, Creed Bratton, Saidah Arrika Ekulona, Josh Stamberg, Bruce Davison
Director: Salvador Litvak
Screenwriters: Nina Davidovich Litvak, Salvador Litvak
Producers: Reuben Lim, Salvador Litvak
Executive producer: Horatio C. Kemeny
Director of photography: Alexandre Naufel
Production designer: Gabor Norman
Music: Mark Adler
Costume designer: Carin Jacobs
Editor: Josh Noyes
No rating, 101 minutes