Warren Christopher vs. <i>Recount</i>

[Peter Suderman]

Unlike
the Indiana Jones films, Recount, which aired last night on HBO, is actually based on real events, namely the brouhaha that went down in Florida after the 2000 election. That hasn't, however, stopped Warren Christopher from getting his undies in a bunch over the film's portrayal of him:

Mr. Christopher said he learned of the film from his tailor, who was asked by the filmmakers to reproduce one of Mr. Christopher’s suits. He said he offered to review the script but never received one. The New York Times gave him a transcript of the scenes in which his character appears.

“I was stunned by the excerpt,” he said in an interview. “Much of what the author has written about me is pure fiction. It contained events that never occurred, words I never spoke and decisions attributed to me that I never made.”



Yes, but that's why it's fiction rather than history. Even when working on projects like this, dramatists just don't have the same responsibility to historical veracity as scholars. They're working in different mediums. No one reads a history department monograph and complains that the pacing is off in the third act; similarly, I think it's a little silly to complain when a movie fails to meet the standards of academia.

And I'm not even sure Christopher came off all that badly. Watching the film last night, I got the sense that he was being portrayed mostly as too cautious, too worried about maintaining the dignity of the process and not worried enough about winning -- not the right approach, but certainly a respectable one.

Moreover, I think it's a little odd that Democrats seem to be leading the charge to complain about the film as it's ultimately sympathetic to their position (and that's even if you discount the fact that the GOP portrayals, especially Laura Dern's SNL-like take on Katherine Harris, are arguably less flattering than the portrayals of the Democrats). Both sides are shown to have mishandled the situation, but the film pretty clearly suggests that the process was severely botched, a large number of voters were disenfranchised, and that if all the votes had been counted, there's a good chance Al Gore would have won.