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The Conspirator [DVD]
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Robert Redford directs this historical drama based on the military trial of Mary Surratt (Robin Wright), the first woman to be executed in the United States. Arrested as a co-conspirator in the wake of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in April 1865, boarding-house owner Surratt finds herself positioned as public enemy number one, and is forced to rely on her reluctant young lawyer Frederick Aiken (James McEvoy) to uncover the truth and save her from hanging. Kevin Kline, Tom Wilkinson and Evan Rachel Wood co-star.
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Top Customer Reviews
While I would hesitate to call it one of the best movies of the year, undoubtedly this movie or more precisely the story this movie relates impacted me more deeply than most do. So much so that I have bought several books on the subject to get as full an understanding of this event as possible.
As an experienced director and actor Robert Redford knows how to push the audiences buttons, making socially relevant, and relatable movies.
Here is a true story of a divided country just arrived at an uneasy peace after a bitter civil war, when recently reinaugurated President Lincoln is suddenly assassinated by an actor in a theater. Not only is the president assassinated, there is a simultaneous attempt to murder the Secretary of State Seward, and Vice President Johnson.
As the manhunt begins for Booth, and his accomplices, suspicions turn to a young known associate John Surratt. Police go to his house, and in his absence end up arresting his mother Mary Surratt for being complicit in the crime of which he is suspected. But is she guilty of being a conspirator, or just guilty of being a mother of an alleged one, an innocent running a boarding house where these conspirators would meet?
She is remanded to be tried in a military court. Frank Aiken, a young veteran of the Union Army, becomes her unwilling counsel. Her rights to a jury trial in a civilian court overruled, one can sense that the odds stacked against her. It's a desperate situation. Her guilt appears to be a foregone conlusion. She is not permitted to testify in her own defencse. Will her son return and save the day?Read more ›
The Story itself centres on Mary Surratt, a Southern Belle and Confederate supporter who runs a boarding house in Washington D.C. Surratt's son, also a staunch supporter of the confederate cause and courier during the war became involved in a failed plot, concocted by John Wilkes Booth to kidnap President Lincoln. Of course it is Booth who later shoots the President and it is through this link with Booth and the fact that a number of the assassins stayed at her boarding house that Mary becomes linked to the conspirators and is put on trial for the assassination of the President.
I have to say that knowing a little of the Surratt story before watching this film in no way spoiled the atmosphere or the tension of the piece. Robert Redford as a Director obviously feels quite strongly about this story and the sympathetic way in which Mary's story is told only heightens the feeling that justice was not being served as well as it might.
I don't want to give too much away suffice to say that If you are interested in History, (particularly the U.S Civil War), Court-Room Dramas, or just old fashioned Human interest stories told with heart, then this is a film you will enjoy.
Robert Redford has always had a love affair with the camera in many of his films stretching back to the 60's---- from behind the camera that flair seems to be generally absent in my humble opinion and 'Conspirator' is yet another example of Redford's lack of the ability to ENGAGE with his audience which was the keystone of his success as an actor.
This could have been much more tense, dramatic and intriguing with solid performances from all the cast not least by James McAvoy, Robin Wright, Tom Wilkinson and Kevin Kline.
It all came over rather flat and often stage bound with some scenes that a great director would have 'milked' seemingly left un-stirred by Redford.
It's a shame that after 2 hours I couldn't write something better about what I watched as I, like everyone else, wish that we had been entertained by such a historically important event as the trial of the only female conspirator involved in Lincoln's assassination.
Others may find Redford's style of directing good value but for me his talent is in front of the camera lens not behind it.
Another look down in history, this time at the very roots of America.
The Conspirator is a passionate yet realistic and not re-assuring tale about how violence impact people's life and History, and how it creates a spiral of revenge at the expenses of thinking and wisdom.
The Conspirator is, in fact, an attempt to understand how and where violence grows up and find a path to insinuate in a society and blind our eyes, suffocating our values.
Another important and cinematographically mature cinema lessons by good old Redford.
Blu ray is excellent and the film photography is perfectly reproduced in the hd transfer
I recently became fascinated with the Lincoln assassination after listening to the original Off-Broadway cast recording of Stephen Sondheim's Assassins, particularly The Ballad of Booth which explores the psyche of John Wilkes Booth (Victor Garber) and examines Abraham Lincoln's legacy in light of the Abolition of Slavery and the American Civil War.
The Conspirator is the debut feature of the newly founded American Film Company which has taken up the remit to produce historically accurate, entertaining movies based on great stories from the USA's collective past; in this case the account of Mary Surratt the owner of the boarding house where Booth regularly met with his fellow conspirators one of which was Mary's own son, John.
In its opening scene The Conspirator quickly establishes the character of Frederick Aiken (James McAvoy) a decorated hero of the Union Army who now works as a trial lawyer in immediate post-war Washington. It also succinctly depicts the scope of the assassination plot which targeted not only the President but Vice President, Andrew Johnson and the Secretary of State, William Seward; with the intent of rallying the diehard Confederate troops who had not surrendered into a revived attack.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
BRILLIANT FILM, KEEPS YOU GRIPPED ALL THE WAY THROUGH. WOULD RECOMMEND THIS FOR ANYONE YOU LIKES A GOOD FILM.Published 4 months ago by CJ