STEVEN STEALBERG?

THE DIRECTOR'S NEW FILM IS HIT WITH A $10 MILLION PLAGIARISM SUIT. BUT ISN'T HISTORY FREE TO ALL?

In making Amistad, his forthcoming film about a 19th century slave rebellion, Steven Spielberg faced the difficult task of shaping a coherent narrative out of history, always a tricky business, given the manifold ambiguities and contradictions of human behavior. A similar task awaits whoever gets to adjudicate a recently filed lawsuit alleging that Spielberg and his colleagues are, to put it baldly, plagiarists--that they swiped their vision of the Amistad tale from Echo of Lions, a little-known historical novel by Barbara Chase-Riboud.

Lawsuits like this are common in the entertainment industry, but the attorneys here are talking awfully tough. "This is...

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