You can now read 10 articles in a month for free on Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

The Boston Globe



In teaching history, Hollywood isn’t as good as high school

US REPRESENTATIVE Joe Courtney, a Connecticut Democrat, has historical truth on his side when he complains that “Lincoln,” the Steven Spielberg movie about the adoption of the 13th Amendment, distorts the Nutmeg State’s role in the congressional vote to make slavery unconstitutional. Whether Courtney also has dramatic truth on his side isn’t so clear, as Hollywood insists that strict factual accuracy must sometimes be submerged when crafting a larger narrative that feels realistic in broad terms.

It’s a matter of interest not only on Presidents’ Day but also at next Sunday’s Academy Awards, with three Best Picture nominees, including “Lincoln,” facing charges of playing fast and loose with facts. Hollywood shouldn’t be held to the same standards as Harvard, and viewers should approach historical dramas with a bit of skepticism. For their part, filmmakers should make good on their own vows to be faithful to the overall arc of the story. By those measures, “Lincoln,” at least, gets a pass.

Loading comments...

You have reached the limit of 10 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week