The screenwriter of “Lincoln,” which has 12 Oscar nominations, conceded on Friday that the taut political drama changed the historical record for “15 seconds,” after a lawmaker complained.
Democratic Representative Joe Courtney of Connecticut said a key scene the film was wrong to suggest that two congressmen from his state voted against the US Constitution’s 13th Amendment that abolished slavery in 1865.
“Representative Courtney is correct that the four members of the Connecticut delegation voted for the amendment,” screenwriter Tony Kushner wrote in a letter he made public.
“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.”
With a hint of irony, Kushner added: “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.”
Kushner stressed that the fallacy did not change the direction of the film in any way, stressing that “Lincoln” is first and foremost “a dramatic film and not an attack on their home state.”
In a statement released after Kushner’s letter, Courtney said he was pleased the screenwriter had recognized the mistake.
“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,” Courtney said.
He also called for a correction ahead of the DVD release.
The Steven Spielberg film recounts Abraham Lincoln’s maneuvers to secure votes in Congress to abolish slavery during the American Civil War.
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