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Product Details

  • Actors: Gore Vidal
  • Directors: Vikram Jayanti
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: A&E Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: March 28, 2006
  • Run Time: 140 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000CCW2UM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #227,303 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

  • "History in the Making: Lincoln" featurette

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A FASCINATING EXPLORATION OF A U.S. PRESIDENT WHOSE GREATEST WAR TOOK PLACE WITHIN HIMSELF. Innovative, intimate and emotionally charged, LINCOLN explores the inner conflicts that plagued and inspired the President who called himself "The loneliest man in the world." Academy Award-winning producer (When We Were Kings) Vikram Jayanti goes inside a life scarred by loss and a mind ravaged by tragedy to uncover a man whose grand achievements were fueled by his own personal turmoil. Using interviews with leading Lincoln biographers like Gore Vidal, Jan Morris, and Harold Holzer, as well as Andrew Solomon, National Book Award winning author of The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, LINCOLN presents a profound and insightful meditation on a man few knew seen through the eyes of the President himself. DVD Features: Behind-the-Scenes Featurette; 16:9 Widescreen Format; Interactive Menus; Scene Selection


In 1972, Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern was forced to drop Senator Thomas Eagleton as his running mate when it was revealed that the latter had twice undergone electro-shock therapy for depression. Imagine, then, what the national media (who played a significant role in Eagleton's downfall) would have made of the Abraham Lincoln portrayed in Lincoln. This startling program depicts our 16th president as a man who was not simply depressed, but suicidal; who had dreams portending his own death; who survived a childhood of Dickensian suffering; who endured a loveless marriage in which two of his and wife Mary's sons died young; and who was brooding, tormented, possibly a closet homosexual, and by his own description "the most miserable man living." What's more, some of the historians and other talking heads taking part in director Vikram Jayanti's two-part, 140-minute documentary suggest that Lincoln's greatness came not in spite of these burdens but because of them, as his own "forced introversion" made him supremely empathetic to others. Produced for the History Channel, Lincoln commingles various elements--biography, interviews, re-enactments (especially of the events of April 15, 1865, the day he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth), excerpts of Lincoln's letters and speeches, etc.--to support its thesis, and the results, while sometimes melodramatic, are compelling. The mood lightens up a bit in the second part, which details Lincoln's years as president, when his vehement opposition to slavery engendered his extraordinary oratorical skills, his steely determination to hold the country together through the horrors of the Civil War, and his inevitable death (which is attributed not to his having freed the slaves but to his insistence that they be given the right to vote). Was Lincoln one of our finest presidents, then? No doubt. But it's a safe bet that had he come along in the mid-20th Century or later, given the kind of scrutiny he'd be subjected to, he wouldn't have stood a chance of being elected. --Sam Graham

Customer Reviews

It's very interesting.
S. Odemis
This documentary/commentary does not attempt to cover all the life of the unfathomable man, Lincoln.
In Awe
His father reportedly slapped the boy around and rented him out as slave labor.
Annie Van Auken

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Todd E. Newman on April 4, 2006
Verified Purchase
Lincoln is probably one of the toughest individuals to grasp. Once you think you have him understood, something else about him comes out of the woodwork to make him more elusive.

Interestingly, this production allows us further insight to him in a unique, dark perspective at times. This production probably isn't correctly named as it's not about Lincoln in the complete form, but it takes a much darker, closeted approach to explaining the man.

I think many people were taken back a bit by this production and were expecting something lighter, more cheerful and triumphant about Lincoln but instead this film is the opposite. I can't say it was totally negative, it just offered strange, unusual insight and possibilities to this complex character. What this show tried to convey was just how some of Lincoln's motivations, considerations and mind state were developed from earlier boyhood years and dealing with depression.

I wasn't too keen on some of the considerations of Lincoln and possible suicidal tendencies. Unfortunately, this production focused a lot on negative things about Lincoln shading him in a dark shroud with shocking misery. It does offer interesting perspective, but the opinions stated are simply that. Opinions without fact. I know Lincoln had issues and had a lot of carry on his shoulders throughout life although I don't think he was so distraught, fearing and suicidal as this documentary portrays.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Stacy N. Hawks on February 14, 2010
Verified Purchase
Being a historian one can often find themselves focusing on one particular historic event. Lincoln's life, Presidency and death just happens to be mine. This biography is very well organized and deep in detail. Lincoln is painted in a whole different light then what most are used to. For the first time historians and authors of Lincoln Biographies talk about his depression, his marriage to Mary Todd, and how he got started in politics. It's an amazing documentary which I would highly recommend especially for the classroom. If you want to get your students attention about the Civil War, Lincoln and history show them this documentary. You will not be disappointed.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Annie Van Auken TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 26, 2009
The History Channel's LINCOLN mixes fact with innuendo, gossip and smear.

Abraham Lincoln's sexual identity is questioned because he shared an illness (depression) and thus a friendship with Joshua Speed. It's implied in this documentary that their several surviving correspondences were love letters, although nothing within these texts even hints at carnality. Much is made of Speed offering to share his bed when Lincoln had no place to sleep. Further casually presented "proof" is an unsubstantiated allegation that the President was caught asleep at the Soldier's Home in D.C. accompanied by a captain, who was wearing Lincoln's nightshirt at the time.

Yet, we have conflicting stories of opposite behavior.
It's suggested that soon after ending his first engagement with Mary, Abe visits a riverside madam. He haggles her price down and when they're finished, she makes it a "freebie," proving (in the opinion of a commenter) the man's absolute charm and thus a good reason he was later elected president!!!

The First Lady (Mary) is said to have furnished her lavish Washington lifestyle with bribes and kickbacks. No definitive documentation given here either, beyond a nice coat of tar.

Our main theme is a lifelong melancholia that first manifested at age nine after young Abe saw his mother suffer for a week and die from tainted milk. His father reportedly slapped the boy around and rented him out as slave labor. A conclusion is made that herein lies the source of Abraham's hatred of this "peculiar institution." No mention at all of his ambivalent remarks on the slavery issue. After every major battle, the President is said to have talked of suicide or wished for death. No specific references given, although this seems quite possible.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By AMD on January 17, 2011
While I am not a fan of Vidal and a lot of his political views; I was skeptical going into the film, but I found myself glued to the screen after the first 3 minutes. I come from a family and extended family that is run strife with depression, mental instability, and sexual addiction. I know first hand what it can do to a family and to a man. I also know the most incredible triumphs of the human spirit can come from the most seemingly debilitating situations. 2 of the greatest men I know struggle daily with depression and sexual addiction. They have both accepted their problems, deal with them, and have found ways to make them better fathers, brothers, husbands, and men. I know that as a conservative we don't like to hear that arguably the greatest President we have ever had struggled with severe depression, possible homosexuality, and suicidal tendencies, but I think it's an important discussion. Too often we are dismissive of ideas that are out of the box that we have known as history. It's almost a form of cognitive dissonance. We want to remember Lincoln as one of the greatest Presidents, Statesman, and man in American History, but we only want that if it fits into our "box". Unfortunately that's not reality. I have read some of the reviews about this documentary and while I understand some of the complaints it is important to point out that the film does not say that Lincoln was a "loser" as one critic put it because he was severely depressed; in fact they do a wonderful job explaining how that depression was a constant struggle and how Lincoln was able to fight through an almost insurmountable disease when his country needed him most and how this struggle enabled him to deal with this nation hold this Union together in the most difficult time this country has ever seen.Read more ›
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