In the movie 'Amistad' President John Quincy Adams (Anthony Hopkins) has a scene
where he is showing an 'african violet' to a native african. Did Adams really
have african violets and if so is there anyway of finding out the varieties that
were available at that time? I'm thinking it was just a hollywood fantasy.
African violets are native to eastern Africa, mostly Tanzania and Kenya.
Most slaves came from western Africa, namely, around Guinea, Ivory Coast,
and Sierra Leone. So the native African probably has never seen an African
violet until that point.
So i think the rest of that scene was probably Hollywood fantasy.
It's one of scores of historically absurd moments in that film, making it
onto an extensive list of goofs with this notation: "An African becomes
misty over the sight of an African violet in the greenhouse of John Q.
Adams. African violets were detailed by a German botanist Baron Walter von
Saint Paul-Illaire in 1891. They were not imported to the United States
until a few years later. Also, the slaves apparently were from West
Africa. African violets are only found along the border region of Tanzania
and Kenya in East Africa."
Spielberg, a notorious plagiarist, took the storyline of Amistad from
Barbara Chase-Riboud's novel Echo of Lions (1988). Spielberg denied his
theft with considerable venom against the actual author, undertaking a
veritable smear campaign against her. But he was absolutely blatant in
taking work of FICTION, which he mistook for history, copying it scene for
scene, including even such novelistic inventions on Chase-Riboud's part as
Queen Victoria's letter to President Van Buren.
No less a personage as Jacky Kennedy O'Nassis had submitted the novel to
Spielberg for consideration as a film. He said no then filmed it anyway.
He's done this with several of his films -- E.T. he stole from a script
that had been making the rounds, written by Satjit Ray. Twister he &
Michael Crichton (who also has a history of overt plagiarism going back to
his Harvard days when he fobbed off an essay by George Orwell as his own)
got from an original screenplay Catch the Wind by Stephen Kessler, taking
bits from it virtually unchanged.
Chicken Run which Spielberg assigned to the innocent Wallace & Grommet
people Spielberg swiped without credit or payment from Alan Davidson's
Escape from Cold Ditch (1995). Paul Schraeder's script for CLose
Encounters was summarily rejected then great patches of it were used
anyway -- as Paul's a Hollywood insider the Gild was able to force
Spielberg to pay for the stolen work, but usually people just don't
Spielberg's resources & he'll bury them under legal details until they
Although plagiarism is a commonplace in Hollywood, Spielberg does it more
often, & more overtly, than just about any director, for as Thomas Mallon
in Stolen Words: Forays Into the Origins & Ravages of Plagiarism notes,
plagiarists are habitual & repeat offenders. That Spielberg will afterward
threaten to sue the people he has robbed causes me to perceive him as a
very, very, very bad man.
-paghat the ratgirl
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