The Day Lincoln Was Shot (1998)

Like ‘The Day Reagan Was Shot’ this TV movie is an unexpectedly decent and detailed journey into the microcosm of events just before and after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln on 14th April 1865, five days after the Confederate surrender at Appomattox that ended the Civil War. It presents the everyday activities of the men at the centre of the controversy and their interactions with the people immediately around them.

The movie is a well-made and confrontingly realistic recreation of the murky world of intrigue that existed in Civil War D.C. where spies, conspirators and double-cross lurked around every corner of a city that was at that time quite literally a swamp. The Capitol is still being built and so are the foundations of the future nation as Lincoln wearily goes about his day-to-day duties while Booth boasts and drinks with his group of radicals.

This movie largely steers clear of the mire of conspiracy theories surrounding the murder (for an intro to those see ‘The Lincoln Conspiracy’ (1977)) but hints at the many influences below the surface and behind the scenes. What makes it so watchable is that the story is not treated like some genteel period costume drama, but rather as the unfolding of real and very relevant political events, which they still are.

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