lincoln movie criticismPosted on October 8th, 2020
Earlier versions of this piece have appeared at Quora and Wikipedia. Scott of the New York Times says "There is no end to this story, which may be why Mr. Spielberg’s much-noted fondness for multiple denouements is in evidence here.
TWITTER Comment document.getElementById("comment").setAttribute( "id", "a169fc3b41d7e7d8629bab06f4b537c1" );document.getElementById("hdbf318017").setAttribute( "id", "comment" ); Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. But it is the job of the filmmaker to use creative “imagination” to recover what is lost to memory.
Not a false note. The leading academic critics of Spielberg’s movie so far have been Eric Foner, Kate Masur, and Patrick Rael. In yet another scene, Lincoln’s young son Tad plays with glass negatives on loan from photographer Alexander Gardner’s gallery. But Gardner would never have sent one-of-a-kind, fragile plates to the rambunctious little “sprite” of the White House. PO Box 1773 / Dickinson College From time to time, even “Honest Abe” himself exaggerated or dissembled in pursuit of a great cause. In pursuit of broad collective memory, perhaps it’s not important to sweat the small stuff. In fact the tall victim was placed diagonally in the too-small bed, and was under a cover, naked, when he breathed his last (doctors had removed his clothes to search for other possible wounds). Michael Vorenberg, author of Final Freedom (2001), was especially pointed in his comments to Brown University students on their Facebook discussion of the movie. The White House is less a temple of state than a gathering place for wheelers and dealers. Can DreamWorks recapture some of that oscar magic that saw it — albeit in another incarnation — win the big prize three years in a row as a stakeholder in American Beauty, Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind? firstname.lastname@example.org, Forgotten Abolitionist: John A.J. The Los Angeles Review of Books produced one of the best summaries detailing the range of historian reactions in a piece by Kelly Candaele (December 14, 2012). Foner, a Pulitzer Prize-winner and one of the most respected historians in the field, claims the movie “grossly exaggerates” its main point about the stark choices confronting the president at the end of the war over abolition or peace (Letter to the Editor, New York Times, November 26, 2012). Oakes has praise for the screenwriter’s decision to draw together the politics of abolition and peace talks, but finds “more troubling in terms of historical accuracy” Kushner’s insistence that conservative Republicans (such as the Blair family) opposed the slavery amendment. Kushner says that he read Final Freedom carefully but denies that it was a “principal” source for the movie. To help allay any concerns about his use of sources, Kushner then shared with Noah a list of more than thirty sources –both primary and secondary—which he claims were especially influential in shaping the script beyond Team of Rivals.
Was Mary Todd really there? Finally, Lincoln’s last moments—in a deathbed at the Peterson House across the street from Ford’s Theatre on April 15, 1865—look little like period descriptions of the gripping scene.
The list of such oops-moments can easily go on.
Zelikow, a diplomat whose specialty is 20th-century history, actually claims that the movie offers an “original” interpretation of the Civil War’s endgame that will “advance the way historians consider this subject.” Zelikow argues that Kushner and Spielberg have pulled together various strands concerning the slavery amendment and the Hampton Roads peace talks in a way that no previous historians have accomplished.
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