Calling out 'Lincoln' inaccuracies: Earring holes, amendment votes and affairs
Daniel Day-Lewis as U.S. President Abraham Lincoln in 'Lincoln' (Photo: DreamWorks Pictures)
As "Lincoln" continues to vie for the 12 Oscars it has been nominated for this year, some moviegoers can't help from noting factual problems in the film. The latest flaw found in Steven Spielberg's film adaptation of historian Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals" book was spotted by a congressman. And another not-so-gaping hole in Golden Globe winner Daniel Day-Lewis' Lincoln costume has also recently proved problematic.
Connecticut Congressman Joe Courtney (Democrat) finally got around to screening "Lincoln" -- in theaters since November 9 -- over the weekend. But when he saw the movie's depiction of the landmark 13th Amendment vote, something seemed weird. The film depicts two Connecticut congressmen voting against the amendment that abolished slavery in 1865. "'Wow. Connecticut voted against abolishing slavery?'" audience members asked, Courtney recalled. "I obviously had the same reaction. It was really bugging me."
Courtney did some investigating and verified his hunch that those Connecticut congressmen depicted in the film -- and two more who weren't portrayed -- were actually key in the passage of the 13th Amendment. Connecticut voted for it across the board.
"How could congressmen from Connecticut — a state that supported President Lincoln and lost thousands of her sons fighting against slavery on the Union side of the Civil War — have been on the wrong side of history?" Courtney wrote in a letter to DreamWorks, urging the movie studio to correct the error before the film is released on Blu-Ray/DVD.
Indeed, it is quite remarkable that the film got it wrong given the effort that was put forth: Spielberg spent nearly a decade trying to get the film made; Oscar-nominated "Lincoln" screenwriter Tony Kushner did extensive research and is said to have followed Goodwin's book to a tee -- though we know better now -- and the film puts a sharp focus on the details surrounding the historic vote. It makes one wonder how the Connecticut vote -- one that's quite easy to verify -- slipped through the cracks.
2/8 UPDATE: Kushner provided a statement to the New York Times offering explanation. It said, in part: "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... In the movie, the voting is also organized by state, which is not the practice in the House. These alterations were made to clarify to the audience the historical reality that the 13th Amendment passed by a very narrow margin that wasn’t determined until the end of the vote. The closeness of that vote and the means by which it came about was the story we wanted to tell. In making changes to the voting sequence, we adhered to time-honored and completely legitimate standards for the creation of historical drama, which is what Lincoln is."