Sunday, February 3, 2013

More Abraham & Less Lincoln If You Don't Mind, Mr Spielberg

I know it's off topic but as one who simply cannot tolerate the least tampering with the historical record, the following instance of special pleading - from someone calling himself an historian - irks me no end.

Basically, film director Steven Spielberg is here being chided by an "American Jewish historian" for not including "at least one Jew" in his latest film, Lincoln, even though the historical record doesn't strictly warrant it:

"As a historian, I took a special pleasure in Lincoln, Steven Spielberg's drama on America's 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, that focuses on his tumultuous final months in office... But as an American Jewish historian, I'm somewhat disappointed with Lincoln. So much of it is so good, but it would have been even better if he had put at least one Jew in the movie somewhere. He had a lot of options. In the very beginning of Lincoln, for instance, Spielberg briefly depicts the Battle of Jenkins' Ferry and has two US black soldiers talk about it. Couldn't they have said something about General Frederick Salomon, one of the Union commanders in this engagement, who was also a Jewish immigrant from Prussia? Then there's the telegraph office at the War Department... Couldn't Spielberg have shown President Lincoln chatting with Edward Rosewater, the 20-something Jewish telegraphic operator who sent out the Emancipation Proclamation from that very office on January 1, 1863? True, he was out of Washington... by early 1865, when almost all of the action in the movie occurs, but if Spielberg had smuggled him in two years off schedule, who would have noticed apart from the historians who have been busy documenting the minor inaccuracies in Lincoln in small-circulation journals? Much of Lincoln depicts life in the family quarters of the White House. Couldn't we have been given a glimpse of Isachar Zacharie there? An English Jewish podiatrist... Zacharie was someone who enjoyed Lincoln's confidence perhaps more than any other private individual, according to a September 24, 1864 editorial in the New York World. And he was, perhaps, the most favoured family visitor at the White House. I'm not sure that Dr Zacharie made any White House calls during precisely the months depicted in Lincoln, but we do have evidence that he corresponded with the president around this time, and the poetic licence involved in putting him on the scene would not have been very great." (Missing link with Spielberg's Lincoln, Lance Sussman, JTA/The Australian Jewish News, 1/2/13)

File under tribalism.

1 comment:

Ale said...