Saturday, February 9, 2013

'Lincoln' screenwriter admits taking dramatic license in 13th Amendment vote scene

On Friday, "Lincoln" screenwriter Tony Kushner admitted, in a letter he made public, that he changed history when he showed two Connecticut legislators voting against the 13th Amendment, which ended slavery. “Lincoln” has 12 Oscar nominations and has been lauded for its historical accuracy.

Earlier, Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) who in the 2012 election cycle won a fourth term to the state's 2nd Congressional District covering the eastern part off the state, complained to the film's producer / director Steven Spielberg that a key scene in the film was wrong when it showed two congressmen from his state voting against the 13th Amendment that abolished slavery in 1865.

Kushner wrote:
Representative Courtney is correct that the four members of the Connecticut delegation voted for the amendment. We changed two of the delegation’s votes, and we made up new names for the men casting those votes, so as not to ascribe any actions to actual persons who didn’t perform them.
All was not conciliatory, however. It's possible to imply tone from the written word, but not possible to be sure the tone is correct. That being said, the next portion of the letter sounds annoyed:
I’m sorry if anyone in Connecticut felt insulted by these 15 seconds of the movie, although issuing a congressional press release startlingly headlined ‘Before The Oscars ...’ seems a rather flamboyant way to make that known.
He added that the change did not change the overall direction of the film in any way, and stressed stressing that “Lincoln” is first and foremost “a dramatic film and not an attack on their home state.”

Courtney released a statement after Kushner's saying:
My effort from the beginning has been to set the record straight on this vote, so people do not leave the theater believing Connecticut’s representatives in the 38th Congress were on the wrong side of history.
However, Courtney continues to push for a change to the film before "Lincoln" is released on DVD. The film is available for pre-order but at the time of this writing, no DVD release date has been announced.

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