>> welcome to virtual book signing. i'm daniel weinberg and we are at the lincoln bookshop and chicago. we have a few people here with us and we are happy to have c-span join us. thank you very much. the illinois channel has been here and liz taylor from the tribune literary book section is with us and we appreciate all of them being here and also voice of america is covering us today as well. before we go on i should tell you all that this is not for c-span we hope you will give our
first name and we will shout out to you. and we'll try to get it on air as quickly as we can. if you're watching the archive, all we ask is that we have signed books and we will have some left over, first editions and certainly don't want to be with the screenplay of the lincoln movie after it gets to be an oscar-winner and you don't have assigned. so get it now while you can. if you're on c-span and would like to be a part of us, i hope that you will buy getting to virtual book signing.net and leaving her e-mail to be a part of this virtual book signing family. also i should let you know that next month we are not going to have an author and. instead we are going we are going to launch our new live broadcast artifact whisper. that is me and we are going to talk about collectorcollector s
and we will have collectors on air or tape and we will talk about artifacts that we had at the time here in the shop and the stories behind them because artifacts, historical artifacts are made with some new need and it's a to us as collectors to find out what the needs are. so i hope you'll join us for that and we will have many other segments and ask you as a collector to send an e-mail into us, maybe a description and an image of a prize example you have in your collection and we will try to put that on until the story about it and have questions as well. artifact whisper is next month on premiere and again or anyone who wants to virtual book signing.net so they can get on with us as well. the lincoln movie is out i have heard so here we are. the two two books, to authors and two books related directly to the movie.
tony kushner of course lives in new york city, recipient of tube tube -- a pulitzer prize, a tony award, an enemy and critics choice for best adapted screenplay and of course he's up for an oscar in just nine days. and frankly it should win because it made a different statement than anyone else has and all these years on lincoln on film. and it made the biggest difference i think than other films in their own genre have the same impact as this one does. he is the author of -- co-edited maurice sendak angels in americd caroline or change. his screenplays include steven spielberg's -- in today's book
is the screenplay for the lincoln movie and a forward by doris kearns goodwin the communications group publishes it, 164 pages, $34 for costs and $15.90 for the paper book and you can order while we are laying -- live and we will have signed copies for you. as well we have harold holzer, his third or fourth time on, senior vice president for internal affairs at the metropolitan museum of art and cochair of the lincoln bicentennial commission, may it rest in peace. has authored or co-authored 44 books on lincoln and the civil war and is a specialist in this imagery and go to guy on media on anything lincoln. hopefully we will get you an artifact whisper. he won the lincoln prize for cooper union and the award four times the evans freeman award,
chicago civil roundtable the achievement awards for the lincoln group of new york and also the james robertson young leaders award for the roundtable of new york and that really goes to the book he has done today which is his latest book, how abraham lincoln ended slavery in america - a companion book for young readers to the steven spielberg film". it's a new market press for i.t. books division of harpercollins, 224 pages illustrated and is $16.99. signed as well in first edition. thank you both for joining us here at the shop and i have a ton of questions and i hope some will come in as well. first one is one you may have heard before but it's the first time here and that is that we now know that obama's
speechwriter has decided to come come -- become a screenwriter so a screenwriter can you do, obama's speech writer for a change? >> i don't think i would make a good speechwriter. there are requirements to that job like patients and willing to be severely edited and writing on deadline so i would not be -- >> you up with some wonderful words into lincoln. >> i did my best but as i said before i think we have a president who is really capable of writing very beautiful speeches all on his own and a couple of really wonderful book so it's nice to have a real writer back in the white house. >> just another screenwriter coming out though. cd maybe when he stunned being president he will become a screenwriter. >> i am available to be either a
presidential speechwriter or a screenwriter. >> tell us about your relationship with steven spielberg and how a film and he was a screenwriter, the third one in movies and how did it change from what spielberg was doing in the first place and what he asked you to do? >> steven originally was thinking of this being a general film about the civil war and met doris at the point she was working on teen revival read a chapter by chapter is coming at him by the time he asked me to take a look at team of rivals and started adapting it he had really moved from it being a film about the entire civil war to specifically about lincoln which is where i think his heart was always. he has said many times that as a kid he was fascinated by
lincoln. he was very frightened when he was taken to the lincoln memorial as a little boy and he thought the figure was a giant scary figure and then he looked into the face and felt that it was a very kindly face and it's sort of had a big impression on him. so i think when we first started talking about lincoln he tells me one of his earliest memory of lincoln was cutting out a cardboard selective lincoln on presidents' day in second grade and when we further -- had her first meeting with daniel day-lewis we were in a pub after the meeting was done and daniel and i were talking about it in a window and it was twilight. daniel was silhouetted against the window and he took a picture with this phone of daniel still wet in the e-mail that to me that night. it looks like abraham lincoln so it's sort of made a circle
graham and this was something he is wanted to do. >> how did you approach your part of the project collects you certainly had to do a good deal of research and the lincoln literary field. what were the major influences that you had? >> i came to be -- to the abraham lincoln bookstore and left with a carton full of books. i began reading what seemed to me was the major lincoln texts. i began reading through the library of america collection of speeches and letters. i read a few general histories of the civil war and sort of intent on 19th century literature, american, english russian and french and i sort of you know could pick and choose american novels for the period
period and english novels for the period to get more fluent in 19th century spoken language. and i began to figure out how to narrow the story down to something that seemed to me to be containable within the format which was only two and a half hours, but that was significant and emblematic enough to stand in order to sort of dig into major themes of the lincoln administration. after i read a few books, there were certain themes that would repeat themselves. they repeated themselves during the four years that he was in the white house and so i began to zero in on the last four months with stephen after had written and encountered and decided to focus entirely on that. >> herald you also were brought
in very early as a consultant and tell us your experience with that. >> the first experience i had came i guess in 2006 when along with a group of lincoln historians organized by doris, we all met at a hotel in new york city with steven spielberg and tony kushner for the first time and we were given two wonderful meals and the all-day session and asked, am bombarded with questions about lincoln. what he looks like, what he sounded like, what his relationships might have been with his sons and with his wife and with his cabinet ministers and how he walked. it was extraordinary and also writing style questions and my now friend tony was taking notes with a fountain pen dipped in ink and i thought, this is never going to work, it's meaningless
but of course now he knows more about lincoln than any of the historians then anyone of us and i think there was a computer somewhere in his brain. that was the beginning and i have known doris for years and was enormously flattered that she asked me to participate. there were terrific people there. jim macpherson, and many others. we kicked around so many subjects. the highlight of the meeting for me and this is, i don't want to undersell it but it was extraordinary experience. the highlight came when both tony and steven spielberg were asked by us -- though we didn't ask any questions until the very end. we have waited until there might be a third mail but we were ultimately disappointed. we said, how would you film the gettysburg address that would be different from say gregory peck's presentation and the blue
and grey or sam waters whispering at the railroad station and gore vidal's lincoln and they went on this flight of imagination, a camera back at the end of the crowd leaves falling from the trees in november,, wind up scaring the word and not everyone paying attention. and only then, maybe at at the last minute would there be a huge close-up of lincoln's face and you hear the word. this made it all worthwhile. rather than listening to each other because we just heard the difference between a screenwriter and the director and mere chroniclers of fact. but then the next thing that happened obviously is that dreamworks and disney asked me this summer or early in the summer to do a young reader's companion book and sort of
expand on the evolution of lincoln's views on opportunity and quality and they did a fall. it was a flip-flopper in that sense of the words that i was a privilege too. >> after i think that i had a first draft, sometime after the first draft we contacted you and asked you and jim macpherson as well as doris too serves are you a run of the first people to read and when steven finally said okay i think it's getting close to the shooting script. we need to show it to historians and have it checked. and we had met a couple of times. >> which was great. in get smart when you opened it and the smoke would come out. >> i was very unnerved by the fact that it was watermarked. what is been happening in the
age of the internet is that the people in l.a. go to dumpsters and they find like discarded drafts of scripts and publish them on the internet. famously w. the entire script appeared on line the day before it started filming which is really a nightmare and nothing leaked. we really kept it under lock and key and took precautions but was a little shocked when he got the script and every page had his name. >> you spoke about gettysburg and the question came in about the dream sequence which i really loved. lincoln for those of you who don't know had a dream that was significant to him and the four significant events in his life at the gettysburg address and the battle of gettysburg or his death for that matter. he talked to the cabinet that day and he had the dream that my
before and that was a big surprise me at the beginning when you have that beautiful scene of him on that ship in the definable shore. but before that scene, just before, was lincoln with a couple of black soldiers in a couple of white soldiers and talking to them, to him, and said the gettysburg address to him, portions of it and to me it seemed, and i have a shrink in the audience here, that was part of the dream that he had himsele he remember the last part of the earlier part was what he was proud of him saw perhaps being embedded into the culture already and so we have now from cleveland saying tony did you ever consider -- the gettysburg address? well, yes. >> well originally my first
attempt to narrow the story down i started in september of 1863 which is around the time that his secretary of the treasury began to make it very sort of publicly known that he intended to challenge lincoln from within the cabinet for the republican nomination and 64, and so when we began, very rapidly i discovered i could write an entire feature of my script and i did and it got me through january of 1864 so it was impossible to go that far back. starting in september gave me a chance to do the address and what harold is remembering is stephen's ideas -- steven was interested in the acoustical trickery, the acoustical shadows and the battle would be happening on one side of the hill and then lincoln's work
when the wind changed direction some said the loss of sentences. the account that doris mentions, there were these two boys who climbed under the platform and heard the whole thing so in my 1863 version i did have the gettysburg address but you are under the platform with these two kids and they see the bottoms of his seat and they could hear intermittently some of the words and they are shocked that it was over in two minutes and then he walks off. that is the way that you hear the address. i never really -- i was absolutely determined that i would guess to his second did not really address and magnificent and perfect as the gettysburg address is, i think the inaugural address is the greatest political speech of all times. it's just one of the most beautiful passages in the english language. and it does so much in such a relatively small space. that is what i especially, the
last part that the whole thing was important to me to hear him do it. i'm really happy because i think daniel, the way daniel does it, is a shocker. you think because it's so clipped and sort of almost modern as the war came and has this kind of steely precision and economy until that gets to the theological part where it becomes a little bit more expansive, that he must have done the whispering, which of course would have been an audible and what i thought daniel did which surprised me, it never would have occurred to me is that lincoln went to the theater is often as they possibly could. he loved acting and actors but he would use 19th century stage language, this big rhetorical gesture when he spoke and i think even daniel does it is somebody who isn't an actor, who is a politician who is it doing it with incredible grace
but grand authority. i thought it was a real new wrinkle into what we know. >> because he was so contemporary and very spare with his gestures but that he would suddenly do a grand gesture and it would look so dramatic. cover your face for a second in malice toward none, it rings very true particularly at that event which may have been except for one lincoln-douglass debate, the largest he ever spoke to. >> even including some of the soldiers he address in the field >> he didn't address them. he reviewed them. on the gettysburg address what i thought was -- daniel and i were both struck at the scene. i like your interpretation of being an expansion of the dream but because there were no african-american troops permitted to fighting gettysburr some strange reason chickened
out at the last minute in signing troops to the battle. we don't even know if there were any african-americans at gettysburg and yet the idea of your book is directed clearly that at least whites recognizing their presence among us and so to have the device of an african-american soldier knowing and almost saying to lincoln you are on record here. it was fantastic. >> the soldiers of course, they asked the american soldiers in that scene, the veterans subsequent battles they were not at gettysburg -- >> those were the battles that if they were captured -- >> the mask of -- massacres where the confederates decided they wouldn't take prisoners. [inaudible] >> i do want to say hello to the
civil war museum. a spectacular museum. if you have never been to it, you should. it's just up north in chicago about an hour and a half and they are on line with us today. as well my hometown highland park public library. hello neighbors. welcome to our shop virtually and we appreciate all of you being on line as well. i want to ask -- peter from milwaukee asked was there a character that was especially difficult to write for? >> no one has ever asked me that. that was the hardest challenge but once i started doing it and once i got over the fear of doing it became easier. you do have to be very careful when you are putting words in the mouth of abraham lincoln.
>> what about sewer? >> i love driving seward. seward first of all was the difference between, seward is obviously an immensely gifted politician and an incredible figure, but not i think, forgive me, not a genius on the level of lincoln and perhaps in a way for all his peacock vanity the wisdom and clarity to recognize the difference and to sort of -- >> at the point he understands lincoln. >> yes and one of the things really you put little quotes on your notebooks and on the wall of the writing desk. one of them was actually from bob dylan talking after he had done this riff on lincoln and the last two lines are i will let you be in my dream if you will let me be in yours which i thought was link on the end and an interesting way.
seward roads to france as his wife, this letter very early on. i think was 1861. the rail splitter and compassion authority every day and it was tremendously interesting insight because you could hear what seward was wrestling with. here was this guy who had this tremendous authority and power but also has this kind of inherent -- beecher stowe talked about it the bridge cables, this kind of yearning compassionate introspective side and the combined both. i think seward found that unnerving and then it feels to me and everything i've read, it felt like one of the first great lincoln obsessives who fell in love with lincoln and he was jealous and envious and
competitive but also you know absolutely aware that he was standing next to somebody who was unbelievably greater and smarter than he was and was happy to be his sidekick. >> his lieutenant. >> he was a lot of fun for us. >> a question that usually comes up and i would like those of you to talk about it a little bit is his dad, thomas lincoln shows up in here. i think it's spot on. you say slavery, as long as i can remember in a way i've never troubled my father but he hated it. he was sold fashion. he took us out from kentucky to get away from them. he wanted indiana kept free. he was in the kind meant that there was a rough courage for fairness and freedom in him. i learned that from him i suppose but little else from him.
>> that is a rich their relationship in one speech. >> between the two of you, i think tony bien nudged it towards the economic and that was one of the reasons he left, because he could not compete with the free blacks that were coming up. >> with the slaveowners. >> the slaveowners incident late. >> while there well there was this religious further -- fervor that came from his baptist, free baptist church where they had an anti-slavery peak preacher every week but then again when the service was over young ape would stand on a tree stump and imitate the sermons and remember them almost perfectly and invariably his anti-slave -- would altamonte decided they had to get them home. there was a religious side. >> not only religious but a moralistic side.
>> a lot of it is the movie sail particularly about his kentucky neighbors, in their place we would have felt the same thing. it's not that northerners are more morally right. >> in an ideal address -- [inaudible] >> and 58 and 60 we would do the same thing and he tried to keep it there. it was important to me to make a distinction that there is a way, the abolitionist moral ethical and religious abhorrent to slavery and then there was sort of the whig position. i mentioned i was a medieval setting major and one of the jokes was -- when did the middle
ages and who says it and it? i actually in the middle of this had -- i think you could make a case that the middle ages and the civil war, this was a moment when a pre-capitalist pre-contractural form of societal organization runs right into the demands of the industrial revolution and it's clearly utterly out of sync with the. people who really rejected slavery i think on that, at least at the beginning on that basis and more repugnant they felt and wasn't necessarily garrison, different kind of anti-slavery politics and it was not rooted in a deep conversants or friendship or familiarity
with slaves or with former slaves or freed slaves. he lived in allen where there weren't very many. there was an insulation so i think i wanted to sort of bring that out i think. it's a legitimate point. >> a scene that i think shocked many people was lincoln slopping his son, robert. how did that come about, that scene? >> okay, i know that i read somewhere and it may have been cackling's book. i'm not sure. >> i did mention lincoln president-elect that when robert lost the knock rilla dress, the first inaugural address at the hotel in indianapolis, forcing lincoln to jump over the registration desk, that would be
a good scene in a slapstick comedy. robert was contrite about what he had done and one report says that they cuffed him whatever that means. and that's in public, 17 years old and was drinking we know on the train trip. so that's another story. they were very indulgent parentg boys. >> i think the estrangement or the distance between the two of them in the heartbreaking thing is on the last day of his life where they talk about loss of profession and robert thinking back on that had a sense that they be they were beginning to come closer but there is a strong sense that robert was handed difficult -- given the responsibility of taking care of of -- while lincoln rode the circuit and they were certainly
not close the way that willie or tad were close to lincoln. i think you know, think that's an important thing. there are many many accounts of lincoln not getting physically violent but becoming enormously angry very quickly and then it would pass very quickly. he got control of it. >> also he didn't learn to be a parent himself. his dad as he spoke about in his dad -- so there was a string of not having a father figure for them and i think abraham learned a little bit more later on when willie came along. >> they either learned to be disciplined or learned to be indulgent. it could go both ways. my theory about the families that lincoln actually had two families. it was all like a man who was
twice married. when daddy died mary got pregnant right away and they have two more sons and those were the two babies and robert was the remnant of the first family. when robert was young, lincoln was often a legal circuit. they seldom saw each other and willie and tad had all of the attention. in 1860 lincoln was home through the whole campaign season off to washington living at the white house so they got the benefit mostly just because of the physical. >> it was a strange kind of closeness. >> i'm showing a photographic came out of the time of those who worked on the 13th amendment. here's the congress that passed the 13th amendment and the speaker in the middle and hamline at the top and lincoln at the bottom. >> the president of the senate gives you a spot in the state of
the union and this is a beautiful example of that photo. the 13th amendment was the crux of the movie as much as lincoln was. that was another actor, the 13th amendment. how do you approach the 13th amendment itself and the actors that were portrayed in congress dealing with each other? tell us about that. >> well, one of the things that i was worried about in terms of doing this film is that it seemed to me that if all one has to say is at this moment the most severe national crisis imaginable, people deciding to self-destruct, the providence or accident or something intervened and it's completely perfect guy and i think this is an accurate description. a man who made for the task
perfectly fitted for his time or this particular task showed up and save the country and a way of reading civil war and lincoln that way and people of been doing it ever since a civil war. even if that's sure and you know i think there is a way in which it is sort of true, what does that say for us now because i think barack obama is an extraordinarily great president. although we may again be beneficiaries of a private intervention given what we had before barack obama and i think helped turn the country around. the important issue i think has to be democracy doesn't work if it's dependent on every once in a while an absolutely great leader showing up for democracy to function. you have to have continuity and coherence in progress. the system itself, people have to work and i think by and large
in american history the system has functioned and i think steven and i both wanted to make a movie in which the real hero of the movie is not abraham lincoln but democracy itself, this democratic process, small d democratic process and the house of representatives in its own cumbersome fashion is a big element in that process and has from time to time succeeded with all of its shortcomings and warts and problems, has succeeded in passing some of the most landed and important pieces of legislation passed by anybody in all of human history. so it's important to remember that and when it passes, the civil rights act or the 13th amendment, it's not necessarily
that moment particularly splendid. it's that mix of people eventually something works and there's a reason as lincoln said to have great faith in the people in the process. it's the peoples house in the house of representatives. >> i'm not sure he would got to that point. he was a major figure and i don't know what would have happened to this country literally. >> and that is true too. i think you are both right. i think with the movie shows that it doesn't have the time to show is that lincoln become supportive of this constitutional change in time for the june 1864 republican convention renamed the national union convention. he strongly endorses the platform plank and in those days people read political platforms
and took them seriously. the senate actually votes before the house which is sort of unusual and 64 and then the houseboats and votes it forward with the majority but not the required two-thirds majority. then comes the november election and then the second chance with a lame duck which is where the movie picks up. all of this background and the vividness which is portrayed in the movie doesn't begin to express my admiration for the fact that u.n. spielberg hit this moment to focus the movie on because as i said before, 16,000 books about abraham lincoln and one book about the 13th amendment. one book and lincoln himself said this is the harpoon that is
killing the monsoon of slavery. one more thing. just about what you said about lincoln's interested in being identified with this. once the revolution has shunned him at his desk he writes on it approved and we presented you with a copy of that resolution in new york a couple of weeks ago. the senate and house were outraged. how dare abraham lincoln signed. presidential signatures are not required. this was a body that was unable to function for four months on this issue and they immediately pass a resolution condemning lincoln for signing his name to the 13th amendment. that is how much he wanted to be part of history. >> and he was a politician. some people were amazed that this movie showed him as a politician. >> once he signed that document is the same as when he signed the emancipation. his name is going into history and he wants to be part of it.
>> what has emblem of ties to buy the bill with his name on it, i absolutely agree with you that the history, the course of the civil war as that happens is unimaginable without abraham lincoln. he turned the civil war into a revolution and lincoln knew that himself. this horrible holocaust award has a great deal to do in terms with the legislative history, but i think there is a dialectic here, the country is perhaps unimaginable without lincoln and lincoln is unimaginable without the country. had the house of representatives failed to pass his amendment his effort to get it through and as we shown the film it was a mixture of self-interest and greed and also some dawning of moral principle, and also his
tenure -- alter his tenure the percentage of the soldiers -- was at 80%? think of these guys, a lot of them kids, having a choice between a famous military general and the civilian. a general doesn't make it five years basically running for candidate of a party. we will end the war at the minute i get in. we are just calling this thing off. 80% of them vote in a way that was going to keep them in harm's way and many of them going into battle. they were very likely to die and that spirit of sacrifice, lincoln said i would rather lose the election than win the election and not have -- what he is articulating there i.
that is real. that is somebody saying i have faith in the people and the people over and over again show me the fact is justified. so i think it's a dialect. it's not just a great leader who is worn and rules in this sort of isolation. it's a person has the ability to engage in this reciprocal fashion with the people and we created lincoln and he created us. >> the soldiers of course came in contact with contraband. the freed or runaway slaves and saw them as people for the first time as they began to work alongside them, sometimes in regiments alongside them. i think that helped change their perception of what they also wanted to do. going down south.
>> exactly. so does what dan referred to earlier because what it comes down to, you have got your progressive and reform people on one side and a retractable bigots on the other side. the middle ground, the people who did not sway are all lame-duck seeker for gainful employment in the future and that is a true story, the story of the fight for those undecided all democratic votes to bring that amendment over the top is one of the great untold stories in american history. >> the more i dug into those guys, how difficult it gets. there were several that were just purchased but then there were people who really were incredibly complicated blend of i want a job after i lose my
receipt which is coming in march but also i am tired of slavery. a lot of democrats at that point that they lost horribly in the last election were really saying, look at what our defense and you can imagine modern day republicans should be saying the same thing about what is let them to a terribly reduced degree of power and will lead them further into the wilderness if they don't abandon some of these visions. a lot of democrats were saying by 65 we have written a slavery nag straight into hell. >> they were saying one of the peculiarities of the system, the election was in november. the guys who were defeated stay there for 13 months until december and said they really need to make some good plans that they are staying around in a special session.
so what's the connection with all of these events. >> reality versus art. history and truth and if we know what we can find out with truth is versus art and the creative license of -- there has been some controversy as you know an lincoln and some other films and i know you don't wish to talk about the other films argo and "zero dark thirty" but we have a little bit of this where people are asking, what about the correctness of this or that? the academics certainly are going towards -- and don't see the arts is necessary and film. i would like you to to talk about that problem in producing and historical fiction. >> let you start this time because this way i can have
jacked directly to your comment that academics are involved and i think i heard you. there is a difference between historical drama and history and i think steven spielberg addressed it beautifully when he gave the gettysburg address this year. he was the speaker of the 149th anniversary of gettysburg and he said art goes where history cannot go. that is what we all want a film or a theatrical piece to do, is get us closer to people and their emotions and their thoughts. >> he is a film make her, not an historian. >> and tony is a playwright and a screenwriter. so maybe, but i don't want americans or film viewers or people who love history to think that we all have to count.
the quibbles aren't as important as the fact that we are refueling for generations that have no clue about this a the focus on this amendment that has been untold. historians get this slap on the face for ignoring this for 150 years. we see the political imaginations that went into it, the mobility -- nobility that was acquired and the patients. i don't think it's appropriate in other words to count the little things and i think, i don't think they are errors. i think they are decisions by people who write brilliant fiction, historical fiction or fiction, to focus our attention in ways that are dramatic. i have said that if we want to get the exact history in congress we can read the congressional record. the question is, you know when
you are an artist and you decide to dramatize the historical event, you are certainly borrowing trouble because if i write a play about completely made of people or a screenplay i can have them do anything i want and no one can say they didn't do that because they didn't exist. when i say i'm going to dramatize the lame duck session of congress for the 13th amendment i'm asking for trouble in a way because this happened. i rule has always been you can't change what happened. you can change what happened on the way to what happened by which i means you can say did this happen and if you say yes, then it's historical. did it happen exact way this way? if the answer is yes then its history it's history and if the answer is yes it happened but not exactly this way then it's historical action grounded in history. the overarching story itself is to be true. we can't say lincoln did this thing and got it through.
it actually passed by 30 votes and that would be a lie. and that would be a distortion of history but you know for instance with the congressman voting, we decided that a major congressman like that and ashley and so on, the people that are really specific incidences are being dramatized, there were 180 votes and it would change the names of the congressman so that for the sake of showing the vote sequence and keeping a dramatic, we would be able to assign this made up congressman's name to this or that to this or that vote in order to keep it secret so we keep reminding the audience audiences is a very close vote. it's a done deal and by the time they started voting they didn't know how the day was going to
end so we engineered that. that's a necessity of making something that voting sequence even though did a beautiful job making a suspenseful, making a suspenseful in that sense. you would only know was suspenseful if you are keeping your own scorecard. we made absolutely and sick wants -- in consequential results which pass by 119 votes and there was a two vote margin over the supermajority. and i think the public conversation about movies becomes keeping a scorecard. this is right and that's wrong and that becomes aware looking at. you are not looking at what is being said. the movie has had huge success now because it's talking about government and politics as an expression of a collective will
toward civilization and an expression of the better angels of our nature and the value of government and the value of politics in a way that you can a chief progress and evolutionary change their electoral politics. that is what i want the conversation to be about. it gets ground in what i really have to say is nitpicking. none of that is central to the historical facts of this film have been challenged by anyone in any way that would cause anyone to ask whether the movie is accurate. it was historical fiction. >> so i should not mention that when i heard someone in the film picked up the ladder letter and i heard the rustling of that and it sounded like pulp paper instead of red. >> all the paper that you would handle you are entitled to say that.
>> i told you we had a big crisis because the telegraph operator ripped off a piece of paper from a perforated pad. i said wait a minute, when was perforated paper invented? we'll agreed it sounded like a 20th century sound so we got rid of it. >> go watch on the church bells. >> if you care about it at that moment it would no matter if perforated people -- i guess people who are stationary experts might be upset. invented by mr. perforation in 1916, then they'd have a reason to complain but it was not like getting the exact date of perforated paper. it was the sound that made like a 20th century sound. it sounded like you know, like a from our immediate moment and it
didn't feel right for the period. i tried every word, especially words that sounded like navy. i had this big crisis, a compound word may be. perhaps but it wasn't clear whether maybe he was used in the middle of the 19th century. if they do it's after improvising and it's not my fault. they say perhaps and you want to make it so that it sounds plausibly from that time so the audience can get lost in that time and so little pieces of paper for more 19th century feeling of that. >> i don't think anybody -- i've spoken to hundreds and hundreds of people who have seen this movie and whatever -- people are having with little items that they would have written differently they would have hired him to do the screenplay.
the film is less than a revelry of being transported into another era with every bit of the audience of the 19th century as far as it can be reconstructed plausibly. the feel and the sensibility and the interaction between man and man in men and women which were different. every bit of from the beginning carries viewers through. i didn't realize i was such a film critic or a social critic but one feels that in the movie. >> i think there were people that criticize the film and they are in types of the criticism in terms of its interpretation one of the things i've been asked many times, where did i find -- what did i find surprising about lincoln? one of our earlier conversations the astonishing thing is the inaccessibility of the subject, that you can read every five minutes there are six new lincoln books and the good ones always have something new to say.
douglas said many people say things that are true about lincoln and after the assassination many people say things that are true about lincoln but no one ever again will say something about lincoln but he was wrong about that. for all sorts of reasons this seems to be one of the inaccessible subjects. so of course i knew there would be people who would absolutely reject their interpretation of lincoln and our interpretation of his role in ending slavery and our interpretation of this attitude towards african-americans and slavery. that is a legitimate that we are presenting -- that is not really an accurate as to say we prove -- present when reading of history which in fact presented as far as we know what happened. >> as i said earlier we could decide never to read richard iii again because shakespeare left out the part about tearing him under parking lot.
>> is a very dark and intimate film as well and i love that intimacy and being a part of it especially on the screen. i love being able to be drawn in and almost in the room itself. >> i watched on tv and i thought it was great on television. >> it does look good on tv. >> we don't have much time left and here i have scores of questions coming in. we can't get to them but something i want to ask. we have talked about this earlier and i wanted to ask again. here we are the three of us in the vineyards of lincoln holding on to his coattails for dear life and there's a real reason why there is no millard fillmore bookshop. [laughter] so why is that it when we are drawn into abraham lincoln's time, him especially, we really
fall in love with him. and it's easy to fall in love with lincoln after you get to know him. i came to the shop, it was in my dna, was born and raised here in chicago and illinois but it was when i came here to start to study him that i said if that mythology as a man and it deserves to be on a pedestal. so how do we keep our objectivity as historians when we have a love for him? >> you know, there are historians who function purely in the anti-lincoln tradition and there is an anti-lincoln tradition that has existed since the 19th century with people like mel bradford and thomas delorenza, blame lincoln for everything from the welfare state to imperialism, atomic power and all of this stuff.
but it seems to me it's inconceivable that anyone can look at the course of events in the 19th century and look at this moment when the moment met the man i demand that the moment are both when american democracy was challenged and might easily have died and not been a symbol to light the world this lincoln wanted. when americans finally decided to retain slavery into the 20 century. you could have easily happened. when we might have produced a character who amble mice's american opportunity for growth as magnificently and stirringly and enduringly about what america meant that should mean. the idea that we should he pretend or seem ourselves to be be -- that is no longer appealing a sort of said. i'm glad that since the bicentennial and sessa squinted squinted and squinted and nail of the civil war and the explosion of interest because of the film, by and large people
are coming to appreciate lincoln afresh and that's healthy even to the body politic. >> we should also recognize there is as much danger is living a -- losing objectivity through determination ahead of time that someone can't be greater can't be greatly good. you know, you are left at the end of lincoln's life with a string of public letters, speeches and then the reports of many people. some of them are really reliable or seem to be reliable and some that are really mad and you can compile a dossier in him being one of the worse people that ever left or one of the greatest people that ever lived. i would argue for that but if you approach it with an assumption of his unworthiness, you are going to find it difficult to understand some of the places that a