Tombstone

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Factual error: In the scene just before the fight at the O.K. Corral, Wyatt is talking to his brothers and Doc on the porch of the town marshal's office. There is an American flag flying behind him with 50 stars on it when in fact there were only 38 stars on the flag in 1881.

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Doc Holliday: Oh. Johnny, I apologize; I forgot you were there. You may go now.

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Trivia: Val Kilmer has been quoted as saying that screenwriter Kevin Jarre insisted the actors wear real wool costumes, in accordance with the time period. During the scene in the Birdcage Theater, Val Kilmer says, a thermometer was placed on the set, and it read 134 degrees Fahrenheit. Kilmer suggested jokingly that this was the reason Doc Holliday killed so many people: "It's just, like, he wore wool in the summer, in the Arizona territory, and that made him mad."

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Chosen answer: A reckoning is like a judgment day, exacting retribution for one's actions. Doc was very well educated and had a very large vocabulary. He was correctly pointing out the subtle difference between revenge (to make Wyatt feel better about losing Morgan and about Virgil's crippling injury) and the fact that Wyatt was bringing about a judgment day (or reckoning) for each of the men who hurt his family.

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Answer: I've spent a lot of time thinking about this very question, and here's what I've come up with. I think there are at least two differences between revenge and a reckoning. First, I think it has to do with the scale of the response to an offending action. Revenge, in my mind, is an eye for an eye, i.e, "You killed my brother and wounded another, so I will inflict the same action on your family (or group, gang, whatever). " A reckoning is less a measured response to an offending action and more of a full-scale punishment, i.e, "You killed my brother and wounded another, so I will now slaughter your entire family-including those who were not directly responsible for the offending action." Second, I think there is also a difference in motivation. Revenge tends to be a very personal response to something, whereas a reckoning tends to be more of a response fueled by a need for justice. In Wyatt's case, it was both. He was enraged by what happened to his family, but was also a lawman.

Franklin Vaughn

Thank you for this response! I've only seen Tombstone a million times and asked the same question every time. It's hard to separate the difference between the two but I believe you nailed it. Well done.

I'm thinking the opposite in terms. Revenge is "Reflexive" and is generally any means necessary (out of an abundance of pain or rage) to hurt the other party. "Revenge is a dish best served cold." If one is exacting justice there's no need to be cold hearted. Therefore, Reckoning is (to me) a fair balancing of the "scales" hence "an eye for an eye." Not only consequences of actions as it were but a corrective action to an incorrect circumstance. Just my understanding.

The problem with that theory is there is no difference in the end because the end result was the same...the killing. True reckoning could have only been achieved though the apprehension and punishment by trial and jury, anything other than that is simply revenge.

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