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Showing 1-10 of 791 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 1,653 reviews
on February 3, 2016
I applaud the creators of the film for attempting to be as historically accurate as possible, but I was disappointed that nothing was portrayed about Lincoln's Vice President, Andrew Johnson, in the film. He played a very important part in Mary Surratt's story, and in the assassination of Lincoln. Much pressure was placed on him to commute Mary's sentence to imprisonment, many military officers and politicians didn't want the stigma of executing a woman. Mary's daughter Anna, as well as family members of the others accused, attempted to plead their case with Andrew Johnson at the White House several times, but were refused admittance. Also, on the day of the assassination John Wilkes Booth left a calling card in Andrew Johnson's "message box" at the hotel he was living at, and it's always been a mystery as to what connection he had with Booth. Not to mention the fact that Andrew Johnson was supposed to be the third government official to be assassinated in the conspiracy... (with Lincoln and Seward) but his would-be assassin "chickened out" at the last minute. All of this history was left out of the film. For that reason I give the film a 4 instead of a 5.
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on May 3, 2015
The Conspirator is a uniquely shot movie which looks not at the death of President Lincoln but at the trial of the supposed perpetrators.

The use of lighting, or perhaps ill use, is odd. The sun in the eyes of the viewer (us), makes it difficult sometimes to keep an eye on the subject rather than illustrate the scene as it should be. Regardless, the director felt it necessary to show this as part of the movie. While it may be an irritant to me it does add to the tension of the movie.

I do feel this movie shows far more about the post war and subsequent ill feelings and animosity of Southerners towards the North. The acting is quite good on "both sides". It is terribly important to remember, especially in this age of issues (most recently Baltimore, April, 2015) that a lynch mob is still a lynch mob regardless of whose authority. We still have certain rights such as a right to a prejudice free trial by a jury of our peers.

This should be shown to all US History students during their studies of the Civil War.
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on April 3, 2015
I enjoyed the film and recommend it. I thought Redford's direction was competent, which you'd expect, but not highly imaginative. I suppose some of this goes to the script and the camera work, but I'm sure Redford had all the authority needed to make any changes there and chose not to. I'm finding this with Eastwood as well--these great actors have spent years on sets and must know everything a director needs to know in order to function. I once worked on a show with another prominent Hollywood actor who had it in her contract that she would direct one or more episodes each season. I was walking through the building one day and overheard her and her cameraman discussing lens selection and it was like listening to astrophysicists--I had no idea what they were talking about. But just because someone is highly knowledgeable doesn't mean he or she is fully suited for direction at the highest level. There are incredible directors who are less successful as actors. Redford's a great actor and a competent director, but in my opinion not a great director. I feel a little bad pointing this out, but it is what it is.

The only other criticism I have is similarly qualified. I thought Robin Wright's performance was good, but somewhat limited. Her characterization of the alleged conspirator in the plot against Lincoln reminded me too much of her characterization in "House of Cards," where she plays Kevin Spacey's wife--a little too heavy on the forbearance and glacial remove.

I'd be interested to read any review you post that deals with these two issues.
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on August 25, 2011
I saw this in the theater because I love the choice of actors. I did not expect to see such a profoundly beautiful & disturbing film. I do like movies that make you think, give you pause & spur you toward further research. I also like movies that treat the audience as though they have a brain. This film does all those things very well. Add to that a beautiful setting & artistic cinematography, & this becomes one of my favorite movies of this year. I actually love that it is so non-Hollywood (no car chases, no sex scenes, no CGI), something completely different for a change. It's all about the story. The acting is wonderful. James McAvoy seemingly can do anything & do it well. His acting in this is worth the price of admission. Robin Wright brings such energy to silence & stillness, she is very moving as a mother first & then a prisoner. Their scenes together are the crux of the movie & are powerful to watch. Kevin Kline & Tom Wilkinson are perfectly cast. I highly recommend this for folks who like history & want a great, beautifully presented story.

Of note: There are hours of extras on this DVD. I was blown away by the historical information & the research that went into making this film. To address some charges leveled at the film's "agenda", the script was begun & nearly completed years ago (before Sept 11 2001), the courtroom speeches & closing arguments were placed in the script almost verbatim from the transcripts of the proceedings. And the movie makes no conclusion as to the guilt or innocence of the main character....but it certainly does make you think.
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on April 26, 2014
This movie shows the vindictiveness and downright pettiness of the Union after the war. Stanton wanted the illusion of some type of process while, at the same time, he played to the popular urge for vengeance, so he organized a special court to have it both ways. The movie focuses on Mary Surratt, who was associated with the conspirators in the Lincoln assassination but was not proven to be a part of the conspiracy. Some commentators seem to think it's a condemnation of Guantanamo, and it may be, but the film is a good challenge to the accepted superficial history of the 1861-65 war.
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on June 28, 2015
L.A. Law meets post-Civil War Guantanamo Bay in this "outstandingly" performed military tribunal melodrama. Passionately acted by Leads, James McAvoy (representing Attorney Frederick Aiken), and House of Cards Star, Robin Wright (Mary Surratt, defendant and mother of Confederate sympathizer Son). Supporting roles by Tom Wilkinson and colossal English actor, (Reverdy Johnson), Colm Meaney (Judge Hunter) and Kevin Kline (Edwin M. Stanton).

Robert Redford produces and directs a freshly versioned Lincoln conspiracy story and period piece. No political agendas or personal social statements in this movie. Redford plays it mostly straight upholding historical fact with courtroom dialog from the original transcripts. The result: an unexpected but welcomed courtroom “suspense thriller” where the moviegoer tries their own case as 13th juror, assigning guilt or innocence. I was particularly impressed with cast wardrobe. Uniform / dress textures and colors were vibrant and tangible … hoorah for 1080p! FOUR STARS from this old school Perry Mason fan and anti-special effects talkie snob!

For a professionally written movie review reference Ebert’s site @:
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on September 6, 2011
Many years ago when I was in the 6th Grade, I ordered a book about the Lincoln Assassination at school. Although the book was supposed to be intended for young readers, I vividly remembered the graphic picture of four hooded conspirators--3 men and 1 woman--hanging from the gallows. Thus began my fascination with the Lincoln Assassination and the conspiracy that changed history.
Most Americans know that John Wilkes Booth fatally shot Abraham Lincoln in Ford's Theater. Few know his assassination was part of a much grander scheme to totally cripple the US Government with the assassination of the three top US government officials - the President, The Vice-President and the Secretary of State. The ensuing chaos could have brought down the Union government and forever changed the history of the United States.

Robert Redford has done a remarkable job in trying to tell a part of the story in a historically accurate manner as possible. THE CONSPIRATOR is a brilliantly staged depiction of a turning point in American history. The movie basically deals with the story of Mary Surrat, a 42-year-old widow who runs a modest boarding house in Washington, D.C.,. Nothing out of the ordinary at first until we learn she is the mother of one of the conspirators and that John Wilkes Booth and other conspirators were frequent visitors to her boarding house. Mary Surrat becomes one of the accused and she and the surviving conspirators are charged in a military court NOT a civil court. Most of their civil rights are suspended in a trial where a guilty verdict is a certainty.

THE CONSPIRATOR draws in actual historical documents to tell its tragic story. Was Mary Surrat innocent and her only crime was running the boarding house where the conspirators met and schemed? Of did she play a more active role? Could she have warned the authorities of the impending plan to assassinate the President and two others. Through the years, history has taken a kinder look at Surrat but that vision has changed in recent years and THE CONSPIRATOR does a great job in presenting the facts and bringing a feel for the day as people worried that even a grander conspiracy was in the works.

Mary Surrat's innocence or degree of guilt will never be known for sure but her story is an amazing tale of injustice. There never was a chance for a fair trial. The verdicts were known before the trial began. THE CONSPIRATOR is more a story of the trial than of the actual events of that April night. The movie can get dry and ineffectual as we watch the courtroom proceedings. The action scenes are kept to a minimum as we see President Lincoln shot and Secretary of State Seward--recovering from a near fatal carriage accident--brutally stabbed to within an inch of his life. Vice President Andrew Johnson is spared as one of the conspirators is unable to do his chosen deed.

There is so much to tell in the Lincoln Assassination..so many side stories and different angles that are breezed over in THE CONSPIRATOR. Of course, there just is too much to tell in one movie. There is Booth's escape and the manhunt, the amazing journey of John Surrat to the Vatican and so much more. Here we have basically one aspect of the whole story and that is the trial of Mary Surrat.

Anyone who is a history buff and wants to learn more should get the two disco version of this film. The bonus features include a 67 minute documentary and various featurettes about the making of the movie and about the conspirators. Photography was just coming into its own during the Civil War so there are a lot of pictures of Abraham Lincoln, the locations involved and of the conspirators. It is an amazing story.

Here is a movie that will excite anyone interested in history but might not catch the attention of someone looking for a typical movie with romance and action. This is a hardcore and sometimes dry historical film..one that is totally amazin.
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on February 21, 2015
The problem with movies based on historical facts is that some writer wants to "jazz it up." If the truth gets in the way of the plot, then just ignore the truth. As a movie, it was quite enjoyable. I have no complaints of the acting (but the casting of Booth must not have been much of a priority).

From a historical vantage you do get the core nugget of truth, that Mary Surratt, an American citizen and a civilian was tried by a military tribunal (in kangaroo court fashion), with little due process and with complete disregard for the truth.

This movie however also disregards the truth. It focuses on one of Mrs. Surratt's attorneys, fictionalizing an account of his crusade to defend his client. The fact is that Mrs. Surratt's attorneys gave her a dreadful defense, and she bemoaned this fact all the way to the gallows.

This movie lost focus. The true facts of these rag tag conspirators led by a narcissistic and psychotic stage actor would have made for a fascinating movie. When fact is stranger than fiction, Hollywood should not embellish away the facts. If the focus had been on Mary Surratt; instead of on some minor attorney, then there would not have been any need to play so loosey-goosey with the facts.
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on May 15, 2015
A well told story of how fear arising from war, the Civil War and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, drives men to abandon the Constitutional rights of American citizens in the name of peace and security for US citizens. The story evokes other similar incidents in our history as a nation. The internment of over 100,000 Japanese Americans by FDR, in early 1942, in essentially prisoner of war camps. In our recent history, the reaction to events of 9-11 saw the Congress, adopt with only one dissenting vote the Patriot Act. Implementation lead to widespread data collection, searching financial records, confinement of foreign nationals under conditions often in violation of Geneva accords for the treatment of prisoners, in general the broad trampling of Constitutional rights. Robert Redford's movie provokes us to consider why our leaders, men sworn to uphold the Constitution do, in the face of danger and threats to our security from enemies foreign and domestic, turn their backs on the Constitution and act in contravention to the core beliefs established with the founding of this nation.
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on March 2, 2015
From what I've read so far, this film is historically accurate - which is not the end all be all, but that's a great starting point for a film about an actual, historical event. Some folks think historically accurate = boring. For me, accuracy counts. A film that has many untruths is hard to watch. Knowing that what you see is an accurate depiction gives it that much more credibility in my mind.
That's not to say that everything that is historically accurate is entertaining. But this film not only appears to be accurate, it is also entertaining as well. James McAvoy does a credible job in the lead role, but Robin Wright steals the show.
The film also does a great job in not making judgment as to the guilt or innocence of Mary Surratt. That's a huge thing. I believe it accurately depicts the rush to judgment by the US, Stanton in particular, of those charged in the conspiracy to assassinate Lincoln.

I'd love to see more films like this. Support the American Film Company so that we can see more historical films like this.
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