DVD REVIEW: Young Mr. Lincoln

The Criterion Collection
Movie •••• Picture/Sound •••• Extras •••
John Ford's fanciful tale of Abraham Lincoln as a young lawyer - with Henry Fonda effortlessly illuminating all the contradictions in the future president's nature - looks just grand on this two-disc set. The image is almost three-dimensional in its clarity and depth, as every detail of Ford's loving recreation of 1830s America seems to live and breathe on its own. The mono soundtrack is a far cry from 1939, with its crystal-clear dialogue and music. A commentary would have been nice, but the second disc does include filmmaker Lindsay Anderson's fine 1992 TV documentary on Ford's early career. The essays in the 32-page booklet, including one by director Sergei Eisenstein, are unusually interesting. Less compelling are the Ford and Fonda interviews (which largely repeat things in the documentary) and the radio dramatization (which is hokey without the visuals). [NR] English, Dolby Digital mono; full frame (1.33:1); two dual-layer discs.