Sunday, August 17, 2014

Documentary Review: Lincoln: His Life and Legacy

Volume One: "Lincoln: History in the Making"  This documentary is presented by History Channel.  As such they rely considerably on historical drama, and interview with Abraham Lincoln historians to tell the story. 
It starts with the presentation of a dream, supposedly a dream of President Lincoln of his own assassination, before he was killed.  From there, the tell a rather depressive story about Lincoln's life.
They talk about his very rough childhood, with multiple family deaths including his mother.  Harsh treatment by his father, who basically farmed him out and took his earnings; like many did with slaves.  He eventually escaped taking employment on a river boat.  His first love died from typhoid. 
At several points in the movie it mentions wild rumor and innuendo.  Of course many times it refutes this with other historians, but it still brings up the subject. 
Was Abraham Lincoln gay?  He lived with and slept with a man for five years, Joshua Fry Speed.  Lincoln had a close relationship with this man, as indicated by letter.  Of course, in this day sharing a bed was common and based on economic need rather than sexual orientation. He also shared beds with other men while on the lawyer circuit.
It focuses much on the relationship between he and his wife.  He was engaged to her before, but broke off the engagement and took a tailspin of depression.  However he did recover and they became man and wife.  The documentary contends that Mary Lincoln likely suffered from bipolar disorder.  She could become very angry.  They were both lonely in their marriage.
The movie also presented Lincoln as melancholy during his presidency.  He lost a son, he sent many sons to their deaths.  Never has an American President presided over so much death.  It assumes he must have been bothered.  There were times, when waiting for news of the war, he was subject to anxiety, not being able to sleep.  We see many pictures of Lincoln over the course of his life, and can see the drain the war placed on his person.
The movie also presents the Spiritualism of the first lady.  She also over spent, and at times messed in activity which would be considered illegal today, cooking books and giving contracts to friends. 
This is the first presentation of many in this four DVD set.  However, I am somewhat disappointed in this one as it tends to the macabre and shock.  The actual events I think were likely much different.

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