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The Conspirator

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The Conspirator

The Conspirator

Mary Surratt is the lone female charged as a co-conspirator in the assassination trial of Abraham Lincoln. As the whole nation turns against her, she is forced to rely on her reluctant lawyer to uncover the truth and save her life.

Director: Robert Redford

Writers: James D. Solomon (screenplay), James D. Solomon (story)

Staring: Robin Wright, James McAvoy, Evan Rachel Wood,Alexis Bledel and Tom Wilkinson






Robert Redford James McAvoy

Robert Redford and James McAvoy

Robin Wright James McAvoy

Robin Wright and James McAvoy

Alexis Bledel

Alexis Bledel











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One Review for “The Conspirator”

  1. Last weekend, I had the pleasure to see Robert Redford’s “The Conspirator.” The film which stars, James McAvoy, Evan Rachel Wood and Robin Wright Penn is a masterpiece. It tells the little known tale about the trial of Mary Surratt, one of the conspirators in the Lincoln Assassination and the first women put to death by the United States Government.

    As expected, the film opens, after a short prologue, on the night of April 14, 1865, the date of Lincoln’s Assassination. However, it does not open at Ford’s Theater. It opens at a party in a private Washington, D.C. Club where union soldiers are gathered to celebrate the end of the war. During this opening scene, we are introduced to Frederick Aikan (McAvoy) a war hero for the north. He is there with a group of his friends, including his girlfriend, Sarah Weston (Alexis Bledel). The film then cuts to Ford’s Theater and the events of the evening unfold.

    Eventually, all of the Conspirators are caught and we learn that Aiken has been coerced into representing Mary Surratt in her criminal trial as one of the Conspirators. Mary Surratt is portrayed in the film by Robin Wright Penn who gives an Oscar Caliber performance. Hopefully, she will be remembered next year during Award’s Season. Her performance is such that she actually makes you fell sympathetic with the obviously guilty Surratt.

    We eventually learn that the entire criminal investigation is being handled by Secretary of War Edwin Stanton (Kevin Kline) as a War Crimes trial. The trial is being held by a military tribunal in which all of the rights of the defendants are pretty much taken away. They are not even permitted to testify on their own behalf.

    It is then that the parallel to 9/11 becomes clear. Robert Redford in probably his best directorial effort paints the picture of an unfair military tribunal condemning civilians to the death penalty. And, he does it in typical Hollywood liberal fashion. The facts are changed from Ms. Surratt’s obvious guilt in order to make sure that the audience becomes sympathetic to her. After seeing the film, I immediately came home and did some research on the subject over the Internet and it appears that Redford biased the facts towards the story he wanted to tell.

    However, this should take nothing away from the masterpiece that Redford has made. The film clearly shows mid-nineteenth century Washington as it was. The production design and costume work are excellent as are the special effects in which Washington is shown as it was in 1865. The story telling is also up to the task as Redford portrays not only the historical facts, but also the mores and social setting of the period.

    The acting at all levels also excels. Even Rachel Wood in the role of Mary Surratt’s daughter, Anna, pretty much steals the show as she does in all of her portrayals. Here, she also makes you feel sorry for the Southern supporter that she portrayed. And, make no mistake about it; the Surratt’s were not pro-union in the War. In fact, John Surratt, Mary’s son, was a gun runner for the south prior to meeting John Wilkes Booth in late 1864. The fact that they were living in Washington, D.C. and supporting themselves in the North should not let anyone believe that the family were not southerners in everything the believed.

    All in all, the film is excellent and deserves all of the praise given it albeit for its liberal slant on the facts and the story. I give it five stars.

    In closing, I would like to add that I am now looking forward to the biography of Lincoln that is being made based upon Doris Kearn’s Goodwin’s book, “Team of Rivals.” The film which will be directed by Steven Spielberg is one of my most anticipated films of the next few years.

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