Bloggers on Spielberg's "Lincoln" with notes on DKG

Not a lot of blogosphere comment on "Lincoln," the movie, but Al Mackey has the best roundup of links to "scholarly" comment.

RC Ocean endured talk, talk. The Amendment's inevitability also struck him as working against the story arc and its pretend urgency.

Rea Andrew Redd points us towards an HNN essay testing the truthiness of Lincoln.

The author, David O. Stewart, is a pop historian and novelist who says things like "For a Hollywood production, the movie’s version is more true than not." Helpful.

He presents points of scholarship in an entertaining, non-threatening way so that the unstable, easily intimidated readers of HNN will not be overly stressed. (Nothing personal, Mr. Stewart, everyone factors in an aversion to scholarship when writing for HNN readers.)

The single interesting point, for me, is about Team of Rivals. This was the book, the rights of which were bought by Spielberg for a future film before Goodwin finished a first draft. After the first round of scriptwriters were fired, Tony Kushner took over on a tack that involved a lot of personal research and years of writing. When "Lincoln" came out, Spielberg said Goodwin's book had been too big for a movie script, a kindly rationale for what had happened to her and her text.

The HNN piece asks the question, how much of Team of Rivals was used? Certainly we have all noticed bookstores now pushing DKG's doorstop as a movie artifact.

From HNN:
... it’s a long book that devotes about nine pages to the episodes in the movie. That’s 9 out of 754 pages. Goodwin’s treatment does not include quite a lot covered in the movie (for example, Seward’s merry band of fixers), nor does it definitively link the House vote on the 13th Amendment to the peace negotiations.
In other words, it's hard to say what tiny particle of connection the book has with the movie.

For the earnest cultural middlebrows who have made her wealthy, Goodwin is a scholar, just as Spielberg is an artist, laugh as we might at that. Spielberg bought a book to serve as protection against scholars when his film came out, IMHO. Not knowing scholarship and being a middlebrow himself, he thought Goodwin an eminent enough historian for this purpose. In the bargain, he got a publicity hound with a wide following to act as his shill.

Goodwin's association with this project has now been revived and highlighted (and her content contribution grossly misrepresented). In the publicity tours she milks her "star power" to present a seal of scholarship approval for the film. She is introduced on shows as "presidential scholar" DKG.

However, as the Foner (et al) scholarly criticisms of "Lincoln" mount, the question is whether she will be rolled out to battle the film's history critics. It's about that time, isn't it? And won't that be amusing?

Stewart remarks on the film that "It presents a range of Conversations That Never Happened.."

Will a Goodwin-Foner conversation happen?

(Above, right, a DDL-DKG chat at the ALPML.)