HAMMOND | The story of Abraham Lincoln's presidency — told through the eyes of his trusted friend and bodyguard — is coming to the Indiana Welcome Center this weekend.
The independent film "Saving Lincoln," based on the personal account of Lincoln's friend and protector, Ward Hill Lamon, will be shown for free starting at 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in the Welcome Center theater.
The film showings are part of the Region United, Nation Divided: Following Lincoln Civil War exhibit, which chronicles Northwest Indiana's contribution to America's bloodiest war.
The movie's inaugural showing came in 2013 at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill. Since then, it has seen showings in select venues throughout the country.
Director Salvador Litvak said the movie is the final creation of a dream he and his wife, co-writer Nina Davidovich Litvak, had more than a decade ago to tackle a Lincoln film.
As an immigrant who came to the United States at age 5, Litvak said he developed a deep appreciation for Lincoln's history.
"I could identify with Lincoln as a guy who did it himself," Litvak said, noting the Civil War-era president's humble beginnings on farms in Kentucky and Indiana and later working odd jobs in a pioneer settlement in Springfield. "He had no family connections. He rose to the top on his own."
Litvak said he began trying to sell a Lincoln script in 2002 but didn't get far. Director Steven Spielberg had just announced his intentions of making a Lincoln film as well, Litvak said.
Speilberg's efforts culminated in the Oscar-nominated film, "Lincoln," which subsequently garnered actor Daniel Day Lewis a Best Actor nod.
Litvak said he realized early on that to be made, his film would have to be on the independent circuit.
Unlike Speilberg's movie, which focuses on Lincoln's interactions with top officials, "Saving Lincoln" is told through the eyes of Lamon, a western Virginia native who became a friend of and law partner with Lincoln prior to the presidential bid. After winning the presidency in 1861, Lincoln brought banjo-picking, gun-toting Lamon to Washington as a presidential bodyguard.
Lamon's perspective of Lincoln is fresh, previously only recorded in Lamon's book, "Recollections of Abraham Lincoln."
Adding to the film's uniqueness, Litvak incorporated actual Civil War-era high resolution photos, obtained from the Library of Congress, into the film. The photos serve as the stylized backdrop through which the "Saving Lincoln" characters move and interact.