Monday, February 25, 2013

Historians: don't get between filmmakers and their principles

In the movie Lincoln, when the crucial vote is going down, two congressmen from Connecticut vote against the anti-slavery amendment. In a column about history and the movies, Maureen Dowd reports that a Connecticut politician has pointed out that the congressmen in question were fierce abolitionists. The northern votes against abolition in fact came from representatives of Lincoln's own state of Illinois. A historical advisor to the film also pointed out the error during the filming; it was just a misunderstanding by the scriptwriter. Since Steven Spielberg has offered to give copies of Lincoln to every high school in the US to help them teach history, the modern congressman suggests maybe they should correct this little error first.

Scriptwriter Tony Kushner is offended by this attack on his integrity:
in historical movies, as opposed to history books where you go for “a blow-by-blow account,” it is completely acceptable to “manipulate a small detail in the service of a greater historical truth." 
So no change.  Kushner says that won’t happen, because this is a “made-up issue” and a matter of “principle.” 

Best Oscar line last night? In the Memoriam section, when Nora Ephron said, "The hardest part about writing ... is the writing." I laughed, anyway.


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