The Better Angels (film)

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The Better Angels
The Better Angels poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed byA. J. Edwards
Produced byTerrence Malick
Nicolas Gonda
Jake DeVito
Charley Beil
Written byA. J. Edwards
StarringJason Clarke
Diane Kruger
Brit Marling
Wes Bentley
Braydon Denney
Music byHanan Townshend
CinematographyMatthew J. Lloyd
Edited byAlex Milan
Brothers K Productions
Distributed byAmplify
Release date
  • January 18, 2014 (2014-01-18) (Sundance)
  • November 7, 2014 (2014-11-07) (United States)
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Better Angels is a 2014 American biographical historical drama film about United States President Abraham Lincoln's formative years. It was written and directed by A. J. Edwards and produced by Academy Award Nominee Terrence Malick.

The film had its premiere at 2014 Sundance Film Festival on January 18, 2014.[1] It was subsequently screened in the Panorama program at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival on February 8, 2014.[2]

In March 2014, Amplify acquired distribution rights to the film. It was released on November 7, 2014.[3][4]

Synopsis and background[edit]

This film serves as a story of Abraham Lincoln's childhood, his upbringing in Indiana, and the hardships and tragedies that made him the man he was. Lincoln lived more than thirteen years in Indiana, but the film focuses on his life from ages eight to eleven or twelve (years 1817 to 1821), and explores Lincoln's relationships between Lincoln and his birth mother and his stepmother.[5] Lincoln historian and scholar William Bartelt served as a historical consultant for the film with Bartelt's book There I Grew Up providing substantial inspiration to the filmmakers.[6] The title of the film, "The Better Angels," is borrowed from the final words of Abraham Lincoln's first inaugural address, "the better angels of our nature."[5]



The Better Angels received mixed reviews from critics. Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a positive review, saying it's "a beautiful, arty, very Malick-influenced evocation of Abraham Lincoln's childhood."[7] Katie Hasty of HitFix praised the film by saying it is "a lushly conceived, exhaustively realized debut feature that'd be pretty formidable stuff coming from a more practised filmmaker — and derided in some quarters as a self-impressed knock-off."[8] Rodrigo Perez in his Indiewire review said the movie focuses "on mood, nature, divinity and celestial atmosphere" rather than story.[9]

Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 39 percent, based on reviews from 41 critics, 16 of which were positive. According to the website, the film is "Malick-inspired but not as inspired as Malick, The Better Angels muffles an interesting idea under ponderous execution."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Sundance 2014: New Frontier Films". Retrieved May 25, 2014.
  2. ^ "Panorama 2014: First Films". berlinale. Retrieved 2014-01-01.
  3. ^ "SXSW: Amplify Logs Terrence Malick Produced Young Abe Lincoln Pic The Better Angels". Retrieved May 25, 2014.
  4. ^ "Amplify Picks Up U.S. Rights to Young Abe Lincoln biopic The Better Angels". Retrieved May 25, 2014.
  5. ^ a b McWhirter, Christian. "Roundtable: The Better Angels". Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  6. ^ Adams, Sam (12 November 2014). "'The Better Angels': Director A.J. Edwards on Young Abe Lincoln (INTERVIEW)". Biography. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  7. ^ "The Better Angels: Sundance Review". Retrieved May 17, 2014.
  8. ^ "Review: Young Lincoln portrait 'The Better Angels' amounts to more than its Malickisms". Retrieved May 17, 2014.
  9. ^ "Sundance Review: Terrence Malick Produced 'The Better Angels' Starring Jason Clarke, Diane Kruger & Brit Marling". Retrieved May 17, 2014.

External links[edit]