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The Conspirator (2010)

PG-13 | | Crime, Drama, History | 15 April 2011 (USA)
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2:24 | Trailer
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 (as James Solomon), James D. Solomon (story) (as James Solomon) | 1 more credit »
2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
James McAvoy ... Frederick Aiken
Robin Wright ... Mary Surratt
Kevin Kline ... Edwin Stanton
Evan Rachel Wood ... Anna Surratt
Tom Wilkinson ... Reverdy Johnson
Justin Long ... Nicholas Baker
Danny Huston ... Joseph Holt
James Badge Dale ... William Hamilton
Colm Meaney ... General Hunter
Alexis Bledel ... Sarah Weston
Johnny Simmons ... John Surratt
Toby Kebbell ... John Wilkes Booth
Jonathan Groff ... Louis Weichmann
Stephen Root ... John Lloyd
John Cullum ... Justice Wylie
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Storyline

In the wake of Abraham Lincoln's assassination, seven men and one woman are arrested and charged with conspiring to kill the President, the Vice-President, and the Secretary of State. The lone woman charged, Mary Surratt, 42, owns a boarding house where John Wilkes Booth and others met and planned the simultaneous attacks. Against the ominous back-drop of post-Civil War Washington, newly-minted lawyer, Frederick Aiken, a 28-year-old Union war-hero, reluctantly agrees to defend Surratt before a military tribunal. As the trial unfolds, Aiken realizes his client may be innocent and that she is being used as bait and hostage in order to capture the only conspirator to have escaped a massive manhunt, her own son. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

One bullet killed the President. But not one man.

Genres:

Crime | Drama | History

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some violent content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

15 April 2011 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Conspirator See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$25,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,506,602, 17 April 2011

Gross USA:

$11,538,204

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$15,481,161
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | DTS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

During one day of shooting, Norman Reedus reportedly went around taking photos of the tops of people's heads with his iPhone. See more »

Goofs

One of the characters calls Aiken "Frederick Sebastian Aiken". His middle name was 'Augustus'. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Frederick Aiken: Two men standing at the Pearly Gates. The first man says, "How'd you die?" Second says, "I froze to death. How 'bout you?" And the, uh, second man says, "Well, I thought my... my wife was being unfaithful to me, so I ran all the way home. And burst into the bedroom. She just..."
See more »

Connections

Featured in Ebert Presents: At the Movies: Episode #1.13 (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Dreams of Happier Days
Arranged by Linden L. Parr, 1864
Performed by Kelli Horton
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A Deeper Exploration of a Famous American Conspiracy
17 August 2011 | by gradyharpSee all my reviews

THE CONSPIRATOR may have had difficulty at the box office because of the controversy over the use of military tribunals that rings across the media today. But this film, based on fact but altered somewhat for cinematic purposes, deals with probably the first misuse of a military tribunal - the infamous trial of the assassinators of President Abraham Lincoln by a conspiracy of citizens, most especially the non-military affiliated Mary Surratt. James Solomon wrote the story and co-scripted the screenplay with Gregory Bernstein. The director is Robert Redford who manages to give the entire film the feeling of mid-19th century aura - visually and politically - and suggests there is little difference between the approach and consequences of that time and the current management of 'anti-government' prisoners.

The film opens with some scenes from the Civil War battlefield where we meet the severely wounded soldier Frederick Aiken (James McAvoy) attempting to save the life of his buddy Nicholas Baker (Justin Long). The film then jumps to the end of the war when the Confederate generals have surrendered to the Union generals and parties are underway. Aiken and Baker have survived and Aiken has decided to pursue law. The President is assassinated by John Wilkes Booth and in the aftermath Booth is killed but it is discovered that there was a plot to kill Lincoln as well vice president Andrew Johnson (Dennis Clark) and secretary of state (Kevin Kline). The response of the nation is terror and the suspects of the conspiracy are arrested and set for trial. The conspirators had been meeting in the boarding house of Mary Surratt (Robin Wright) so the military decides she must also be a conspirator and tried with the others 'to put this madness to an end.' The men in charge of the tribunal include Joseph Holt (Danny Huston) and David Hunter (Colm Meaney). There is one lawyer, Reverdy Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) who feels that the tribunal is not an acceptable manner in which to try a citizen and assigns the fresh new lawyer Frederick Aiken to defend Mary Surratt. At first Aiken hates his role but as time passes and he gets to know Mary Surratt he is convinced of her innocence and implores Mary (and Mary's daughter Anna - Evan Rachel Wood) to reveal the location of the true problem in their family - Mary's son John (Johnny Simmons). The story features the change of approach of Aiken and the abuse of justice at the trial and the film ends with some very poignant lessons not only about our history but also about our present.

The pacing of the film is slow at times, but the cinematography by Newton Thomas Sigel and the musical score my Mark Isham keep the film involving. James McAvoy offers a sterling performance and the rest of the cast is impressive. THE CONSPIRATOR is a healthy dip into our nation's past and makes us more alert to our nation's present.

Grady Harp


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