December 5, 2012, 3:43 pm
As viewers flock to see Lincoln, and reviewers rave about Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance, historians are raising different issues: How accurate is the film’s portrayal of emancipation? What does it leave out? The Chronicle Review asked several scholars to weigh in.
Kate Masur, writing recently on the subject of Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln movie, argues that Spielberg chose to take a narrow view of the politics of emancipation, keeping the focus on the white men in government, rather than the white female abolitionists or the enslaved and free African-Americans who helped make emancipation a reality. Like Masur, I would agree that equally compelling stories about the end of slavery during the Civil War could be imagined.
But part of the reason this film has generated so much interest and discussion is that, at least from the standpoint of artistic choices, it did a lot of…