February 17, 2013

Tony Kushner thinks it's fine for a movie to "manipulate a small detail in the service of a greater historical truth."

"History doesn’t always organize itself according to the rules of drama. It’s ridiculous. It’s like saying that Lincoln didn’t have green socks, he had blue socks."

The green/blue sock equivalent ridiculousness in Kushner's screenplay was having Connecticut vote against the abolition of slavery when in fact it voted for.

139 comments:

chickelit said...

Was there something revanche or intentional in that Connecticut rewrite or was it coincidence? I'm still waiting for the movie to come out on Netflix.

Gahrie said...

I agree with Kushner. This movie was a historical drama, not a documentary.

EDH said...

“Zero Dark Thirty,” “based on firsthand accounts of actual events,” has been faulted for leaving the impression that torture was instrumental in the capture of Osama.

She's on a first-name basis?

It celebrates Jessica Chastain’s loner character, “Maya,” when it could have more accurately and theatrically highlighted “The Sisterhood,” a team of female C.I.A. analysts who were part of the long effort.

I'm sure there are aspiring and more talented writers at the NYT that think the same about you, Mo.

Matt said...

Coincidentally, my position on slavery depends on what color socks I am wearing. If I pick black, I am anti-slavery; if I pick white, I am pro-slavery. As white guys often look silly in black socks, I almost always pick white socks. I guess I am saying I am pro-slavery. Usually. What difference does it make, really?

Tim said...

Yeah, movies based on history should be historically accurate.

But people like Maureen Dowd, who faithfully works for a news media that routinely fabricates and distorts political truths in the service of the Democrats, or Congressman Joe Courtney, a Democrat, whose political life is oriented around partisan lies (tell us about your efforts to get to the truth of Benghazi, Congressman...) to complain about fabrications in movie informs us their own values are fucked up.

That, and they think us stupid.

Gahrie said...

intentional in that Connecticut rewrite

I've read that it was intentional, and it was a small historical inaccuracy used to illustrate a larger historical point without crippling the storytelling.

Chef Mojo said...

Basically, it seems that Kushner and Spielberg believe that audiences are too stupid to follow the plot without "place holders" and "rhythmic devices."

The problem with this is that the folks involved with Lincoln (and I know one of them very well) went through a lot of trouble letting everyone know how historically accurate the movie was, right down to Lincoln having a reedy voice and backwoods accent.

Kushner and Spielberg are legitimately getting called on this. It was a pretty sloppy thing to do, given all the bragging that's been going on about the movie in its entirety.

Lyle said...

There is more to the story. From a graduate of Wisconsin.

http://cwcrossroads.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/the-devils-in-the-details/



Dust Bunny Queen said...

"History doesn’t always organize itself according to the rules of drama. It’s ridiculous. It’s like saying that Lincoln didn’t have green socks, he had blue socks."

Right....because one guy choosing what color of socks is exactly the same as a people deciding that it is alright to enslave another group of people.

Wearing a certain color of pants can also indicate whether you approve of torture as well. As Elmer Fudd says......be vewy vewy carfwul about picking out your wardrobe.

Lyle said...
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wyo sis said...

Historical fiction, to be considered excellent, cannot alter the facts of history. I assume historical drama has similar constraints. It does for me at least.

Quayle said...

Who the hell cares about truth.

We're talking greatness here.

Absolute, monumental greatness!

Besides, what is truth?

ricpic said...

Kushner has no truck with those insane extremely extreme INDIVIDUALISTS!!!

chickelit said...

...even the most respected history of an event is at best an approximation.

~James Cameron, writing in the preface to "The Titanic Disaster Hearings"

Cameron landed in a bit of trouble for the way he portrayed First Officer William Murdoch's death in Titanic. He ended up endowing a scholarship in Murdoch's hometown in Scotland. link The truth about Murdoch may never be known.

The misrepresentation in Lincoln is incongruent with fact and requires a better explanation.

Quayle said...

History doesn’t always organize itself according to the rules of drama.

And truth doesn't always organize itself according to the rules of what I want.

Truth! [Biden laugh here....]

What a quaint notion.

Really, you simpleton. You child.

Gahrie said...

The truly sad thing is, what most people "know" about history, they "learned" in the movies.....

dreams said...

Connecticut has a right to be upset. The liberal film makers get to have it both ways, they make movies with the liberal message including altering the facts (selected reality) to achieve the desired result and then when called to task for it they fall back on their standard defense that they didn't make a documentary.

Big Mike said...

I'm a Civil War buff and my understanding of Republican efforts to pass the 13th amendment is that it was a pretty dicey thing. There was no need to spice it up with historical falsehoods.

Now Martin Sheen cast as Robert E. Lee in "Gettysburg," that was a historical falsehood of the deepest and least necessary sort.

Mitchell the Bat said...

I have it on good authority that Achilles was not fleet-footed, nor was Athena gray-eyed or dawn rosy-fingered.

Still, Mr. Kushner sounds like a jackass.

edutcher said...

You want manipulation of details in service to a greater truth, watch something like, "Santa Fe Trail".

All he had to do was be honest and mention Delaware rejected it and was the last state to foreswear slavery.

Wha...? Gonna put y'all in chains...?

Oh..., THAT campaign.

Never mind.

caplight45 said...

Watched Kushner on Charlie Rose yesterday. He said Obama is a great and effective President because he always brings the discussion back to the main narrative that people need the government. Kushner said that government is the expression of the better angels of our nature, using Lincoln. So his whole outlook is pretty much a Hollywood fantasy and facts to the contrary all must serve the NARRATIVE.

G Joubert said...

Hey, if a bona fide auteur like Quentin Tarantino can do it and be praised for it, its gotta be good.

DADvocate said...

Kushner betrays his own laziness, at best. Supposedly, he's a fine playwright. He could have found an honest way to portray the truth, an oxymoron explanation on his part.

MadisonMan said...

People in Connecticut are such whiners. And DADvocate -- why should be tell the truth? It's a movie.

Kushner should say he thought it made a better story, increased the drama of this fictionalized storytelling (emphasis on fictionalized) and that the complainers should get a life.

El Camino Real said...

Yes Mr Kushner, it's ridiculous to think that a thoughtful and talented playwright or screenwriter could pen a historical drama that falls within the scope of historical facts such as which states voted for the Constitutional Amendment that is at the center of plot.

As for Spielberg? "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull". 'Nuff said?

Paddy O said...

I wonder if they think it would be acceptable to have the Republicans leading the charge for Civil Rights laws in the 50s and 60s?

Because it is much more in keeping with the rules of drama to have the party formed in opposition to slavery carrying on this quest for 100 years against the intransigence of Democrats, and their longstanding support of racial inequality.

Paco Wové said...

So... is there such a thing as a "historically accurate movie"? I remember reading Seven Pillars of Wisdom after watching Lawrence of Arabia and thinking, hey this isn't much like the movie at all!

El Camino Real said...

Yes Mr Kushner, it's ridiculous to think that a thoughtful and talented playwright or screenwriter could pen a historical drama that falls within the scope of historical facts such as which states voted for the Constitutional Amendment that is at the center of plot.

As for Spielberg? "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull". 'Nuff said?

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

There was an NPR "Morning Edition" story on this awhile back, and Kushner's claim then was that he was just trying to dramatize that the vote on the 13th Amendment was close, and that he wasn't trying to pick on Connecticut. I don't buy it. If the vote was close, show us the vote. Don't make up racist state delegations (assigning them to a particular state) that didn't exist.

Marshal said...

It seems to me Kushner's example doesn't follow his reasoning. He reasons that history doesn't follow drama, implying there's a dramatic reason he needs Conn to vote against the 13th amendment, i.e. some story element is advanced. But his example of green/blue socks couldn't possibly advance it.

So which is it? Are variations important because they're necessary to plot or are people whining about nothing?

Spielberg has agreed to provide a DVD to every middle and high school that requests it.

This seems to significantly rebut the "it's just a movie" angle. We're showing it to kids as history, I'd say they need to comment on what is / isn't history.

Palladian said...
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Palladian said...

Anyone who has had to sit through Kushner's "Angels In America" would know not to involve themselves in any further melodrama from this tiresome old queen.

Chip S. said...

Yes.

I'm just grateful that Lincoln didn't feature time-traveling Reagan casting a "no" as a rep from CA.

Michael K said...

Kushner thinks we have a "psychotic individualism" trend in this country. That ends my interest in his opinions.

I saw Lincoln and thought it was interesting but not as good as Zero Dark Thirty. My son says "Argo" is better than both but I haven't seen it.

The Hollywood lefties have probably sunk ZDT's chance of best picture. Hitler would understand.

Chef Mojo said...

why should be tell the truth? It's a movie.

You're missing the point. This wouldn't matter if the marketing and PR for LIncoln hadn't relied so much on the movie being very historically accurate. In other words they were selling it as the truth. Panels of historians were present every step of the way, advising on how to get it right. The writer - who made a big deal of using an historian's account of this incident - and director chose to ignore the advice. Fine. It's a movie. But don't turn around and then try to sell that movie as the truth-via-historical-accuracy, and then whine when you get called on it.

They really pushed the historical accuracy thing on Lincoln. I've seen the press packs. The whole premise of the thing is to immerse you in the world of Lincoln's Washington, DC, so you can feel the tension of this event within the context of the time.

BTW, none of the other movies Dowd mentions sold themselves on down-to-the-tacks historical accuracy. Affleck has been saying all along that he took liberties with the story for dramatic effect. That's great. Argo is a fantastic movie and top-notch story telling.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Someone get that man a job on FOX News!

chickelit said...

Kushner thinks Joe Lieberman is "appalling" hmmm

Chef Mojo said...

Ritmo, I suppose you thought you were being clever with that comment.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

They really pushed the historical accuracy thing on Lincoln. I've seen the press packs. The whole premise of the thing is to immerse you in the world of Lincoln's Washington, DC, so you can feel the tension of this event within the context of the time.

And that's the really odd thing, innit? They went so far as to procure Lincoln's old pocket watch from a certain historical society, wound it up, and found that it still went a'tickin'! Amazing, and they went and used this tick-tock as a background sound. Has something this authenticating ever been done before in a film? I found it pretty impressive.

And yet, they didn't want to be bothered to get the vote right - the most important plot development of the film. One with infinitely more historical significance than his pocket watch. Bizarre.

chuck said...

It's crap. But movies are made up stories anyway, with no more intellectual, factual, or moral content than the average comic book. The sad thing is that they sometimes pretend to more, and that some in the industry delude themselves that they sometimes achieve more.

Achilles said...

Rewriting history is necessary to hide the effects of liberal policy.

chickelit said...

That Mother Jones interview with Kushner is interesting. He sounds much like some commenters around here.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Dowd's essay was good. I could actually hear teachers and students across the country lamenting the fact that the region was wrongly blighted, and their sense of history thwarted, in perpetuity. Lincoln was a great film, with enough acting chops and historical resonance to serve as a teaching tool in classrooms for some time to come. Too bad they'll have to deal with this splinter of a flaw.

In a day and age when our ability to determine and portray historical accuracy has evolved immeasurably, I do think that getting certain details right matters. Artistic license is important, but perhaps less and less so with an actor of Daniel Day Lewis' caliber willing to recreate Lincoln's whistle of a voice and historical societies providing the man's own pocket watch as a metronomic sonic placeholder in the film.

Oh well. Decisions, decisions. Trade-offs.

chickelit said...

Amazing, and they went and used this tick-tock as a background sound. Has something this authenticating ever been done before in a film? I found it pretty impressive.

Downton Abbey is fanatical about such detail--even down to getting the right social mores for the times. I'm looking forward to the finale tonight so no spoilers!

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Ritmo, I suppose you thought you were being clever with that comment.

Why, Mojo?

Don't you think that FOX could benefit from having a "Dramatist-in-Chief"?

A Chief Political Playwright?

I think the head honchos of that operation would love it!

Sam L. said...

Lies are always told for "the greater good", or the lesser, more personal one. Or just because the liar is a jerk.

Sam L. said...

And Kushner no doubt thinks Oliver Stone told the true story in JFK.

furious_a said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
O Ritmo Segundo said...

Speaking of pocket watches, time was not on Lincoln's side. I wonder how much less bungling would have been made of reconstruction had he not been assassinated? Perhaps Lincoln might have even been elected to a third term?

It's pretty cool that they used that watch. Time is a great theme in the film. Changing times -- socially and technologically (with the use of Morse code), the aging of Lincoln in five short years, the time for slavery to end.

And yet, we still didn't fix everything legally until a hundred years later.

It's interesting to think of the uses of time in this story.

ushutup said...

Slavery isn't really relevant, today. It's not important. Doesn't matter. No one really cares about that stuff these days.

Is that the message?

But then who cares about some old geezer in a big hat getting stabbed, or something (may as well tell the story for the politically correct age).

So what is the whole point of the movie if relevant and pertinent facts are changed? It's just another story about some dead guy.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Kushner and Spielberg are legitimately getting called on this. It was a pretty sloppy thing to do...

That's an endless (and thankless) road to get started on. Historians have already called them on the inflated importance of the vote itself. If it hadn't passed then, it almost surely would have when brought up again a few months later...

From Inwood said...


As the saying goes “put a sock on it” (I didn’t write that, did I?)

Buy if I understand Mr K, to the extent that anyone can understand his nonsense, he’s trying to educate us’n bourgeoisie lumpenproletariat to understand that dramas about Historical figures must be organized according to the rules of The Narrative. That is, we must distinguish between banausic fact & irrelevant detail as described by bourgeoisie Historians on the one hand & more acceptable facts & details that advance the Narrative in a way more understandable to the hoi barbaroi on the other hand. Er let me get back to you on the green socks/black socks stuff.

And in my next biopic, Bobby Thompson hits a Grand Slam Homer & the NYGiants go on to win the 1951 World Series. I’m expressing a deeper truth, you see. And speaking Truth to NYYankee Power.

furious_a said...

In service to a greater historical truthiness -- good times, good times...

MoDo: "[Kushner] said that 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."

As when Kushner had Golda Meir, in his screenplay for Munich utter: "Sometimes a nation must compromise its most basic principles.".

To which one of the reviews of Munich which I read replied: "Which basic principle would that be -- 'NEVER AGAIN'?

Spielberg has agreed to provide a DVD [of 'Lincoln'] to every middle and high school that requests it.

Good grief...deliberately damag...er, reconstructing one of America's foundational moments and then uploading it to impressionable young minds like some sort of cultural malware.

We'll (well, those of us who give a sh*t) be years undoing the damage.

Chip S. said...

Looks like I may be the only fan of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter here.

I mean, if you're going to deviate from strict factual accuracy in the service of a greater truth, why not go all out?

If vengeance is all you seek, you will never be able to save mankind. Fight this war with me, not for one man but for the whole world... Mr President.

chrisnavin.com said...

I get all my history and politics from Left-leaning, gay, Jewish activist upper West side playwrights writing popular screenplays about Abraham Lincoln.

Progress!

William said...

I saw Angels in America some time back. In Kushner's fever dream of America, Roy Cohn is a worse person than Ethel Rosenberg.....I think that only someone of disordered logic and morality can reach such a conclusion. But that was the opinion of Kushner and the Pulitzer Prize Committee......I'm just grateful there were no full frontal naked gay scenes involving Lincoln.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Hell no, Chip! You aren't. I can't tell you how damn intrigued I was by that film.

Surely it didn't stay out in theaters long enough to schedule a view, though. It didn't seem like the kind of thing you'd want to rent/stream at home. At that point, I'd probably druther see Warm Bodies.

But on the silver screen? Hell yeah!

Let's request a re-release? A letter-writing campaign. Are you in the Northeast, again? I can't remember... I'll see it with ya.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is definitely the kind of thing to see in 3D. It only got 35% on Rotten Tomatoes, but at least grossed $45M more in sales than it was budgeted. Minor consolation.

I totally want that on a big huge 3D IMAX screen somewhere. I watch tons of movies at home after they're pulled, but can't do it with this one. I can't even believe I'm going to have to do that with Cloud Atlas... Life sucks.

Glen Filthie said...

Hollywood? Infested with people that don't care about facts? Or historical accuracy...?

I yam shocked. SHOCKED, I tells ya...

chrisnavin.com said...

How about this new video series for your public school:

The Universally Equal Human Democracy

Ken Burns-photography
Tony Kushner-writer
Aaron Sorkin-production/writer
Michael Moore-caterer
Oliver Stone-Creative Consultant

Narrated by Sean Penn

Chip S. said...

Ritmo, you can get it in blu-ray now thru netflix.

narciso said...

Now I could understand NY, Fernando Wood, the mayor of NY, was a straight confederate ally, but the Nutmeg state,

Chip S. said...

Surely it didn't stay out in theaters long enough to schedule a view, though.

Barely.

In fact, when I went to a single-screen theater for the last show of the night, it turned out that the place had closed early for the night. There was an angry crowd of about 8 people outside.

furious_a said...

All we need to know about the artistic courage and integrity of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences:

A 'based on actual events' feature like Zero Dark Thirty is effectively blacklisted from consideration for Best Picture, and Kathryn Bigelow for Best Director (which she won prior for The Hurt Locker, because the judgment-neutral portrayal of detainee treatment.

A spliced-edit, fabrication-filled feature like Bowlling for Columbine wins Best Documentary.

Inga said...

On the whole I think the film was terrific, I was thinking to myself when watching the Connecticut vote scenes, "strange that they voted no", only to find out later it was inaccurate, that was dissapointing.

Chickie, yup, cannot wait for the Downton Abbey finale tonight!

O Ritmo Segundo said...

I haven't even updated my broken DVD (w/5-speaker Surround Sound) to Blu-Ray, Chip. I'm not sure if that tells you how behind the times I am.

But I really stopped watching TV after ending the outrageously overpriced Northeast cable monopoly subscription, years ago. Since then, I get what I need on-line. Anyway, aren't the big guys now attempting to merge those media? GOOGLE on your TV, etc.

Or, a movie theater. The public nature of that experience and a screen that's several rooms wide can't be beat, when you need it. Also, can you imagine using 3D glasses at home? Once HFR becomes the standard, you'll probably want to.

narciso said...

Now I could understand NY, Fernando Wood, the mayor of NY, was a straight confederate ally, but the Nutmeg state,

O Ritmo Segundo said...

There was an angry crowd of about 8 people outside.

RI-OT! RI-OT! RI-OT!

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Zero Dark Thirty had zoomed ahead of Lincoln as a favorite, before those douchebags decided that Bennie Affleck just neeeded to get a nod.

So at least that should warm the hearts of the Torture-Was-So-Used to get bin Laden crowd.

Skipper said...

More of the Dan Rather "fake but accurate" theory of journalism/media.

St. George said...

I'm waiting for a movie about President Kennedy that depicts him getting shot up with drugs to kill the pain of his back injury, meeting with Khrushchev so stoned and in pain that the Soviet leader thought he was a weakling, being carried off Air Force 1 in a stretcher upon his return to the US, doing poppers with an intern, ordering her to perform oral sex on another man while he watched, and, of course, discussing with his father the ways in which Sinatra was funneling Mob money to the 1960s campaign.

It would be huge at the box office.

Incidentally, here is what Wiki says about the Vienna Summit with the Russian leader: "Part of the reason for Kennedy’s rather poor performance may have been the combination of drugs he was taking for back pain and other ailments. Following the prescriptions of Max Jacobson (informally known as ‘Dr. Feelgood’), Kennedy was injecting himself with a drug cocktail that included hormones, steroids, animal organ cells, vitamins, enzymes, and amphetamines. Among the possible side effects were hyperactivity, nervousness, impaired judgment, and wild mood swings."

Unbelievable. "Rather poor performance..." "Injecting himself..." Very sad.

Makes you wonder what we don't know about Mr. Obama.

Chip S. said...

Also, can you imagine using 3D glasses at home?

I've done it. They're a little uncomfortable, but not unbearably so. Still, only a few movies are worth it, IMO.

I dropped cable tv a couple of years ago. Don't need it now that MLB gives a decent feed online.

Are you immersed in the Hulu free-Criterion-Collection weekend?

furious_a said...

Ben Affleck...

...because Gigli and...Pearl Harbor.

Scott M said...

I can't even believe I'm going to have to do that with Cloud Atlas... Life sucks.

I read "Cloud Atlas" twice. The first time as a reader and the second time as a writer. While the individual stories are exceptional in their nuance and layers and the characters fully realized, as a whole, it's a mess. I saw an interview in which the author admitted that he had these stories and wanted to see if he could tie them together. He said it took about 30 minutes to do so and that's backed up by what the Wachoski's have said about him.

It made the book a mess.

This is truly one of the very few instances where I walked away from the movie, with all of its kinetic shifts and disorienting edits, thinking that the film had been better than the book.

At least the movie ties these stories together, however tacitly, and gives a resolution at the end. I would usually call that dumbing down a story...but the novel had no arching story to dumb down.

Michael K said...

"Has something this authenticating ever been done before in a film? I found it pretty impressive."

Ritmo, you might watch "Last of the Mohicans" which went to great lengths to be accurate for the period. For example, all the extras playing Indians were Indian. I read an account from the guy who taught Daniel Day Lewis to reload his muzzle loader while running.

Of course the story itself is fiction but the details of the time were very accurate.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Nah. Don't use Hulu all that much (usually iTunes or even less protected stuff on YouTube from time to time), so I had to look up that last thing. Most of what I want, I can get, with the exception of rare and sometimes strange indie or foreign films. I can think of prolly one old "classic" that I might need to get this way.

It's interesting how accessible media and broadcast programming are merging. Netflix even coming out with their own production company, for instance. Makes sense but who'd have thunk it.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Last of the Mohicans was the first Daniel Day Lewis movie I saw. With how immersed he gets in his characters as the consummate method actor, I'm not surprised he's crossed paths in the film industry with others who are similarly engrossed in bringing to bear the most authentic contributions they can find.

Titus said...

Kushner is full of BS. The sock equivalent is ridiciulous.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Yeah, I was intrigued by Cloud Atlas when I first saw it on the shelves years ago, but held off on buying it. Mitchell's (and the Wachowskis') innovation is in the storytelling device itself, even if both formats ended up falling short when it came to doing it in an exciting way.

The short run-time of the movie led me to believe that those criticisms couldn't be overcome on the screen. But I still want to see it and like the clips I've seen. I'd probably fall under the category of viewers/critics who'd still get something out of it.

edutcher said...

St. George said...

Unbelievable. "Rather poor performance..." "Injecting himself..." Very sad.

Makes you wonder what we don't know about Mr. Obama.


Most of us know it, I'd say, we're just waiting for that smoking gun so we can shoot down the Lefties - metaphorically speaking, of course (She-Wolf of the SS telling all and sundry I'm being reported to the Gestapo in 5, 4, 3...) - when they start crying, "It's just about drugs and gay interracial sex".

Inga said...

Cloud Atlas, the film, was a mess. It could've been so much better without some of the sillier stories. The premise was interesting and they could've built on that. The Time Travelers Wife, novel and film, excellent.

Cedarford said...

Gahrie said...
I agree with Kushner. This movie was a historical drama, not a documentary
=================
I disagree.
You can take license to cast some people and events as more or less important in historical drama, throw out "fact" on very thin if any evidence (the liberal meme of Tomas Jefferson loving and bedding black slave Hemmings..)
But you don't get core facts and make them entirely the opposite of what is well known.

It might make for better Drama!! for the Confederates to have stormed Little Round Hill at Gettysburg and routed the 20th Maine until 3 warrior chicks with ninja swords stopped the cowards and led Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and the Mainers back up to retake the hill - only to be ignored when the *spit!* men got all the medals....

But it would be a bald-face fucking lie on how it really went down.

Same with the little subversive Kushner getting his ass handed to him for trying to cast poor Connecticut as a slave loving Southern bastion up North.

The facts are clear and indisputable - CT was strong abolition, voted that way, and ended the Civil War with CT supplied Union forces amounting to 4,191 dead, 400 missing, and 9600 suffering serious wounds but living.
And Connecticut, led by Sec of the Navy Gideon Welles who had shipyards built everywhere there was wood and navigable waters, and all the New England sailors, inc a big Connecticut contigent, played a critical role in throttling the South from supplies of war.

Scott M said...

Yeah, I was intrigued by Cloud Atlas when I first saw it on the shelves years ago, but held off on buying it. Mitchell's (and the Wachowskis') innovation is in the storytelling device itself, even if both formats ended up falling short when it came to doing it in an exciting way.

But the innovation is the shallowest form of I-wonder-if-I-can-do-it that so mars modern art forms. The Wachowski brothers, making the movie, had to spend a helluva lot more time and effort stitching things together and I think they succeeded. Given their recent string of misses, I wasn't optimistic, but they sure as hell nailed it.

Scott M said...

Cloud Atlas, the film, was a mess. It could've been so much better without some of the sillier stories. The premise was interesting and they could've built on that. The Time Travelers Wife, novel and film, excellent.

Did you read the book?

Inga said...

Scott, no I didn't read Cloud Atlas.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

...the liberal meme of Tomas Jefferson loving and bedding black slave Hemmings..

Um, this actually happened. Don't know if Basement Rebels believe in "DNA", but the DNA didn't bother to ask Jefferson (or more implausibly, one of his brothers), for permission to be used. Also, it's spelled "Thomas", douchebag.

This is not the thread for Confederate revivalism. Best to channel your anger at names that sound like "Kushner" instead, your other, equally misguided obsession.

Scott M said...

Then, dearest Inga, kindly and respectfully, shut your pie hole.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Given The Matrix alone, the Wachowskis are entitled to try for whatever cinematic innovations they want, IMO.

Inga said...

Scott M, fuck you, what a jerky thing to say. Not everyone reads the book before seeing the movie.

Inga said...

Ritmo, believe me the Matrix was much much better than Cloud Atlas, but by all means see it for yourself, I think you'll end up agreeing with me. I saw Cloud Atlas with a group of people, we all came out of the theater dissapointed.

Scott M said...

Given The Matrix alone, the Wachowskis are entitled to try for whatever cinematic innovations they want, IMO.

Agreed. I couldn't overstate how much I enjoyed, and still enjoy, the original Matrix, nor overstate how disappointed I was how they wrote themselves into a corner with the second and third installments. I would certainly agree with your point, though.

M. Night, on the other hand, needs to find a new line of work.

Scott M said...

Scott M, fuck you, what a jerky thing to say. Not everyone reads the book before seeing the movie.

lol

O Ritmo Segundo said...

The Matrix is a completely different thing. Cinema (and every art form) is ripe for a format that connects many, heretofore seemingly disparate strands and tales. Finding more and more connections and paradoxes is just a natural outgrowth of life in era when information is infinite. Obvious things like explosions, crashes and passion-gone-wild only go so far. Fighting back against atomization is all the rage in the Facebook Age.

Actually, Cloud Atlas' depiction of connections and paradox is probably closer to one of the themes of The Matrix trilogy than people assume. It's just in a less philosophical, more humanistic way. And with less emphasis on technology.

I get what they're trying to do and think it's important, in the broadest sense possible.

Roger J. said...

I enjoy historical movies, and I agree with those that thought DDL's Lincoln portrayal was great. If one has to rely on historical movies for truth, then so be it.

I gave up on historical movies with the Lion in Winter when Henry II and Eleanor were speaking British English when in fact they spoke only Norman French.--Still a knowledge of actual history does help keep the movie portayals in perspective.

Lincoln was a good movie the few historical innacuries notwithstanding. And both Argo and ZDT were good movies. Movies I suggest are not history, but merely reworked history to sell tickets. Take movies as truth at your peril.

Inga said...

Time Traveler's Wife depicted paradox in a much more interesting and human (and less silly) way, IMO.

Gary Rosen said...

"fuck you, what a jerky thing to say"

Ah, the libs chez Althouse, so blissfully unaware. Still doesn't beat "Why are you wingnuts so insulting?" though.

Cedarford said...

If Jewish American Kushner had wanted Real Drama, he could have had great scenes of Lincoln effectively screaming at Grant, Sherman, about their actions against Jews aiding the Confederacy by black market trade in cotton and war profiteering as camp followers jacking up the price of supplies coming to Union troops in the field.

Grant expelled them from large swaths of taken Southern territory as violators of orders against trading with the enemy.
His expulsion order was reversed by Lincoln.
Sherman: General William Tecumseh Sherman complained to him, “We cannot carry on war and trade with a people at the same time.”
Sherman asked Lincoln if he could hang some Jewish merchants playing both sides as an example. Lincoln turned him down.
Later, Sherman asked for permission through the War Dept to simply commandeer the goods Jewish merchants were trying to sell at jacked up prices. And burn their smuggled cotton and tobacco when found. Someone turned him down.
Unknown if Lincoln was involved...
But Kushner could have constructed a dramatic scene with Lincoln and his Cabinet meeting with some American and European jewish financiers trying to keep the cotton and other goods flowing on both sides of the Atlantic - diffusing the Sherman situation.

gadfly said...

Not even its harshest critics dispute that Zero Dark Thirty is a beautifully made film, with clean, sharp lines, completely gripping, and light on any extraneous material. There is almost no backstory for the characters, just the grinding sense of mission that propels people working in extraordinary circumstances. There is nothing glorifying about the torture scenes, either, which illustrate both the hideous reality behind the euphemistic language and the fact that you can't trust information coming out of them: when asked for details of an imminent attack, the detainee – beaten, waterboarded, dragged on a leash and finally shut in a box – mumbles in terror and bewilderment every day of the week. (Later, when not under duress, he gives up a key name, which critics of the film say sets up a false causality: there is no conclusive evidence that torture led to this particular disclosure.)

No conclusive evidence either way, so waterboarding might have helped. Who really knows? Certainly not MoDo or the (oxymoron alert!) Senate Intelligence Committee.

Chip S. said...

It's always good to be reminded that Lincoln was a free-market guy.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

It's always good to be reminded that Lincoln was a free-market guy.

Probably just not the kind who thinks unlimited business with a country that keeps suicide nets on the sides of their buildings is an unmitigated good, eh?

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Oh look, Cedarford! There's a Jew!

That guy is seriously like a cat following a laser pointer.

(If only successful filmmakers were as Riefenstahl-like as him. It's unclear what, if anything, Cedarford is good at).

That twat could probably convince himself into thinking that Haym Solomon's financing of the Revolutionary War was a bad thing.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

I think there might be a Jewish conspiracy at work to keep Cedarford from commenting intelligently.

In this way, they are able to make anti-Semites look bad.

TerriW said...

I have it on good authority that Achilles was not fleet-footed, nor was Athena gray-eyed or dawn rosy-fingered

As long as Odysseus really did have thighs like the mighty oak.

Chip S. said...

Probably just not the kind who thinks unlimited business with a country that keeps suicide nets on the sides of their buildings is an unmitigated good, eh?

I would agree that the Chicoms have an unorthodox approach to capitalism.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Unorthodox?

You'd think that self-styled "capitalists" (or defenders thereof) would be much harsher critics of, not only slavery, but conditions that border on it. Of any exploitation of labor, in fact.

I guess not.

Gary Rosen said...
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Gary Rosen said...

Yep, just as I predicted, Fudd comes storming in after the morning JO wears off. By the way Fudd, what was the "land grab" in the Middle East you were ranting about yesterday? Never did answer, did you? You never do, you've never done anything but spout bullshit ...

Oh wait! (#51)

Chip S. said...

I don't know how you see any of that in my comment.

The Chinese legal system is evolving toward something more favorable to individual rights and worker safety in conjunction with, and at least in part because of, its move toward a free market:

Despite recent market reforms, the Chinese legal system continues to focus less on individual rights than on community concerns, reflecting not only China’s communist roots, but also the more deeply ingrained Confucian cultural beliefs. While the adoption and implementation of laws relevant to its burgeoning market economy will continue to expand, China’s legal bureaucracy remains unassertive, infrequently interpreting or expanding existing law. Nevertheless, the enactment of the New Tort Liability Law will offer some protection to the individual as China continues to juggle its communist ideals with the practical demands of its diverse and increasingly international economy.

n.n said...

The irony is that the greater historical truth is to trust neither authors nor journalists. The traditional wisdom is that a semblance of the truth can be determined from multiple, independent sources. The "truth" is a probabilistic property, and is therefore true with a large number of trials (or sources).

Gary Rosen said...

I knew C-fudd would chicken out like the gutless weasel he is when challenged on a fact.

Temujin said...

Historical drama. Hmmm...Seems to me I remember a very good historical drama called "Path to 9/11" based on the outstanding book by Lawrence Wright, "The Looming Towers".

It used an historical drama approach to blend a couple of key characters into one- for the sake of brevity (in a multi-day event). This was a very well done drama based upon true events.

But- like everything else, it depends on who's ox is being gored. In this case- Sandy Berger's and Bill Clinton's. The Path to 9/11 was shown once- albeit altered by the pressures from the left. It was shown once- then put away into a vault, never to be seen again by the public.

Such is the wrath of the Left when 'historical dramas' do not fit into their template. I suspect that, back then, Mr. Kushner would have been one of those howling for the movie to be destroyed.

Just try to find a copy. ABC owns it and will not release it to anyone. It's harder to come by than that video that Hilary and Prez were touting as the cause of Benghazi.

There's a template. Everything needs to fit into it.

Baron Zemo said...

I agree with Cedarford. It is total bullshit that they portrayed Abraham Lincoln as a Vampire Hunter when in fact he was after the Jews.

n.n said...

Chip S.:

It is competing interests which keep the honest people honest and others from running amuck.

It's interesting to note that many people favor centralized systems because they fear the chaotic nature of emergent or distributed systems. Perhaps this is why they are only capable of paying lip service to preserving individual dignity and human rights generally unless it is their own at risk to suffer violation.

Unfortunately, many people prefer to exist in a lower energy state while enjoying the products and services available at a higher state. The individuals who recognize this aspect of human nature are the ones who propose redistributive change schemes as solutions.

AprilApple said...

A lie about history is no big deal? No, it is a big deal. Your film becomes propganda when it's filled with historical innacuracies and lies.

n.n said...

AprilApple:

It also serves to preserve the status quo.

For example, there are readily observed causes which motivate the illegal immigration of around one million people annually to our nation. The people who attack Americans and defend illegal aliens are providing a service to criminal cartels, corrupt governments, and fanatical policies which displace (e.g. fanatical environmental policies) people from their homes. They also protect an administration which sold several hundred automatic rifles, which were used to murder several hundred Mexicans and at least one American.

On a larger scale, the dramatic fiction they produce is used to rationalize presumption of guilt and extrapolation of culpability based on nothing more than sharing common features, including skin color. This has been used to justify redistributive change schemes -- which denigrate individual dignity -- in the form of social justice, affirmative action, etc.

There are consequences to be suffered when people tell tales for dramatic effect.

pst314 said...

Funny how people like Tony Kushner set out to make art with a political message, and then when they get called out for inaccuracies they say it doesn't matter because it's art, not politics.

R.A. Crankbait said...

Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?

Kansas City said...

Kushner sounds like a self important jerk. He obviously should fix the Connecticut deal, but in schools, good teachers can correct it and use the opportunity to edcuate students not to believe what the see in the movies.

The more significant historical fraud of the movie is that Lincolan supported the 13th amendment, but did not place a great deal of importance on it being passed in the Spring of 1865. He knew it would be passed by the incoming heavily Republican Congress. He sent a message to Congress essentially suggesting it was better to pass it sooner rather than later [when the new Congress came in], but attaching no particular urgency to it. It is too bad because there was so much honest drama that could have been produced out of the Lincoln presidency. Instead, they chose to create largely fiction.

http://www.mrlincolnswhitehouse.org/inside.asp?ID=625&subjectID=3

William Chadwick said...

Kushner is a Red Diaper Baby, like his hero, Obama. Some Red Diaper Babies smarten up after they leave the nest, but not those two.

Valentine Smith said...

Whats the difference? Everybody knows there are enough alternate universes for this to have happened somewhere.

William Chadwick said...

By the way Ritmo, I'm a libertarian (one of those weirdoes who believe their lives belong to themselves and not the State), so I include the Abolitionists among my spiritual forefathers. If you read a lot of their speeches and writings, they usually argued from the same ethical basis of self-ownership and non-coercion that modern libertarians do. You "liberals" (i.e., tax-happy, coercion-addicted State-shtuppers) not so much. Recent case in point, Thomas Frank, the Linda Lovelace of State-fellators. A columnhe wrote attacking the Tea Party in particular and anti-statism in general read suspiciously like the writings of George Fitzhugh,the antebellum South's most articulate apologist for slavery.

LarsPorsena said...

Blogger edutcher said...

" You want manipulation of details in service to a greater truth, watch something like, "Santa Fe Trail"..."

Worth the watch just to see Raymond Massey's speech (as John Brown) on the gallows.

Scott M said...

Instead, they chose to create largely fiction.

Are you actually going to suggest that Lincoln was NOT a vampire hunter?

Cedarford said...

Baron Zemo said...
I agree with Cedarford. It is total bullshit that they portrayed Abraham Lincoln as a Vampire Hunter when in fact he was after the Jews.

===============
No, no! Lincoln and the more well-heeled members of his Cabinet defended the Jews against Grant and Sherman...who did think they were blood suckers!
So, if you side with the generals, Lincoln was actually a vampire-defender.
Later, Grant mellowed on the Jews. Once he and his cronies in the two Grant Administrations hooked up with various Jewish contributers who sought favors, Grant and his henchmen said many kind words about Jews and did many kind services for them.

Phil 3:14 said...

Its the Stewart Manuever (as in Jon Stewart).

"Hey,_____ (its, I'm) just a _______ (movie, comedian"


Take me seriously, but not TOO seriously.

glenn said...

All you need to know about ol Tony

Anthony Robert "Tony" Kushner (born July 16, 1956)

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Oh Gee, William Chadwick. Such new insights! Never heard 'em before! No, really! I haven't. Not in a millionaires. No siree. Never before have I heard a shallow historical revisionism in the service of an ideology that can't get 5% of the voting public. Perhaps it's the contempt thing you have for them... I dunno.

In any event, like the selfish sycophant that you are, weren't you even going to have the decency to at least ask if I'd like my talking points warmed over, as opposed to served fresh? I mean, I realize that the glibbies tend to be a rather autistic bunch, given your propensity toward anti-social, segregating forms of "salvation". But, really now.

kevin soy said...

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Gary Rosen said...

Still weaseling, C-fudd. Guess it's time to get ready for your beddy-bye JO.

From Inwood said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
From Inwood said...

Hey C4

My next historical play will have a Cardinal from Connecticut, in white sox, voting for a Jew as Pope.

And all the members of The Conclave getting served with summonses for polluting the atmosphere with white smoke

furious_a said...

Funny how people like Tony Kushner set out to make art with a political message, and then when they get called out for inaccuracies they say it doesn't matter because it's art, not politics.

Jon Stewart peddles a variation of this known as "Clown nose on/Clown nose off."

ganderson said...

Spielberg's historical movies have always been iffy. Read James Bowman's review of Amistad for a great deconstruction of the ludicrousness of John Quincy Adams' character; or Saving Private Ryan, in which he dresses up 90's guys in WW II uniforms. Spielberg has a tendency to get the costumes, hair, settings, etc correct down to the minutest detail (wouldn't surprise me if the actors in Lincoln were wearing period underwear) while getting the big stuff wrong. BTW my favorite bit of historical inaccuracy is in the movie 13 Days (which could have been a press release by the Kennedy family. After Kenny O'Donnell (Kevin Costner, displaying the WORST Boston accent in the history of the cinema; never mind what he REALLY did for the Kennedy brothers!) saves western civilization the O'Donnell family is sitting down to a giant breakfast BEFORE going off to Mass- IN 1962!! Nobody working on that movie saw how impossible that would have been? Sheesh!

ganderson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ganderson said...

Kushner is a reasonably talented left-wing hack-propagandist. In the closeted era he'd be writing somewhat funny jokes for Shecky Greene or someone like him. Today he's an 'artist'!

Tibore said...

"Tony Kushner thinks it's fine for a movie to "manipulate a small detail in the service of a greater historical truth.""

Yes, I think it's also the reason all those people were edited out of pictures with Stalin back in the days of the Soviet Union...

Anthony said...

Fortunately for comparative purposes, I got this review of the movie Obama that fell through a temporal portal, apparently originating approximately 100 years from now:

"In this film we see how President Obama single-handedly flew a helicopter into Pakistan under heavy and sustained laser fire, landed within Osama bin Laden's compound fortified with approximately three thousand well-armed and fanatical jihadis, fought through them all with nothing but a .45 handgun and a steak knife, and then proceeded to take down bin Laden who was, at that very moment, keying in the instructions to launch the entire world's arsenal of nuclear weapons. We can only be thankful that Obama also collected, collated, and analyzed all of the intelligence collected during the hunt for bin Laden, seeing intricate patterns that no one else had seen before, that eventually led to his bold, daylight solo raid on the heavily fortified compound. Now, some historians may quibble with the actual details of the events in question, but those are secondary to the overall accuracy of the entire story. . . ."

EMD said...

Kushner fucked up.

Lincoln's history is already rife with drama. No need to manufacture it.

Now, combining characters and compressing time are all necessary evils of condensed wide-ranging books and events into screenable films. But what he chose was not a "minor detail."

Rich Rostrom said...

Kushner has a point. Sometimes it is necessary to fudge some historical facts to sustain a coherent narrative.

Case in point: The Great Escape. There were American as well as British PoWs in that camp, and tbe Americans participated in the preparations for the mass escape. Until a few weeks before X-Day, when for no particular reason the Germans moved all the Americans to another camp.

The filmmakers decided to ignore that, and left the American characters in through the escape and its aftermath. They had a team of former inmates as advisers on the film, and they agreed that it was dramatically necessary.

However, I can't see how Kushher's particular fakery was necessary, or appropriate.

Regarding U.S. Grant and General order 11: Grant had had a lot of trouble with sleazebag traders dealing contraband to the rebels. Then a group of Jewish hustlers showed up, who had recruited his father as their front man. That's what set him off. Lincoln overruled him immediately, and I believe he apologized.