Abraham Lincoln: Preserving the Union (1996)

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Released 6-Feb-2013

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1996
Running Time 90:26
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Bill Harris

Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI ? Music Christopher L. Stone
Zeljko Marasovich

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Abraham Lincoln: Preserving the Union is a TV documentary made in 1996 as part of the Biography series. It uses photographs, illustrations from picture books and newspapers, locations, voiceovers by actors reading extracts from letters and journals, a narration by Jack Perkins and interviews with historians, academics and authors to give an overview of the life and achievements of the 16th President of the U.S.A.

     With a title like Abraham Lincoln: Preserving the Union the focus is on the events leading up to and during the American Civil War, including the terrible personal toll Lincoln suffered and his relationships with his generals. However, it does cover Lincoln’s humble origins, his fractured relationship with his father (Lincoln refused to go to see his dying father, and did not attend his funeral), his marriage to the “highly strung” Mary Todd, and his entry into politics. The issue of slavery is also discussed in some detail in the documentary, including the fact that Lincoln’s earlier position on Negroes favoured separate development (almost an apartheid position), or shipping freed slaves back to Africa or to a colony in Panama. Indeed, the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 applied only to states in rebellion, and not states within the Union, like Kentucky, that also had slaves. However, over time Lincoln did change his ideas, and later had the 13th Amendment passed banning slavery. One author made the interesting point that had Lincoln not been assassinated, it is possible that Black American could have had full rights much earlier.

     Abraham Lincoln: Preserving the Union is certainly lively and contains interesting facts, such as that the famous and iconic Gettysburg Address took less than 2 minutes to deliver and that Lincoln had sat down at the end before any photographer had taken his picture during the address. The cover of the DVD, however, shows pictures of troops that do not appear in the documentary and the blurb promises the story of “the tough campaign that made him president” and “the truth about the complex conspiracy that made Lincoln an American Martyr”, neither of which to my mind are fulfilled. For example, it is intriguing how Lincoln, a man without any administrative, military or executive experience, could be elected 16th President of the U.S.A. and the documentary really does not explain how it happened. In reality, this documentary is not an in-depth examination of Lincoln, nor in the time allowed could it be of this very complex man. Instead, Abraham Lincoln: Preserving the Union is a basic popular history; it covers the primary facts, is interesting enough and does not outstay its welcome.

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Transfer Quality


     Abraham Lincoln: Preserving the Union is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, the original broadcast ratio, and is not 16x9 enhanced.

     This documentary uses a number of still photographs that are now over 150 years old so the quality of the images presented obviously varies considerably. The footage filmed for the series also varies. The interviews are sharp and nicely detailed. The other footage, including locations and reconstructions have good natural colour but suffer from aliasing, some interlacing and also some macro blocking (such as the fire and kettle at 4:13). These are frequent, but short lived, and don’t ever make the images unwatchable.

     There are no subtitles.

     The print is perfectly acceptable for a TV documentary from 1996.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     Audio is English Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192 Kbps.

     This documentary is mostly narration and interviews, and both are clear and easy to understand. There is also music by Christopher L. Stone with Zeljko Marasovich, as well as minor Foley effects such as wagon wheels, running water or fire, some of which were directed into the rears by my system. The sub-woofer is not used.

     There were no lip synchronisation issues with the recorded interviews.

     The narration and dialogue were easy to hear, so the audio was fine for a TV documentary.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     This is a Region All release. The Region 1 US NTSC and Region 2 UK versions are the same. Buy local.


     Abraham Lincoln: Preserving the Union uses photographs, illustrations from picture books and newspapers, voiceovers and interviews with historians, academics and authors to give an overview of the life and achievements of the 16th President of the U.S.A. This is not an in-depth examination of Lincoln, but a basic popular history that works fine on that level.

     The DVD comes with acceptable video and audio. There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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