6.9/10
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The Conspirator (2010)

PG-13 | | Crime, Drama, History | 15 April 2011 (USA)
Trailer
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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Photos

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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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Did You Know?

Trivia

On the last day of filming, after the final scene was shot, James McAvoy immediately walked to the makeup trailer to shave off his beard. See more »

Goofs

In the film, when Abraham Lincoln is carried into the bedroom of the Peterson Boarding House after being shot, the room is brightly lit. According to all historical accounts, the room was very dark, illuminated by one small gas jet lamp on the wall. In addition, Lincoln is also placed on the bed with his head toward the wall and his feet closest to the doctors. In real life, he was placed with his feet toward the wall and his head closest to the open side of the bed. A historical photograph of the death bed after Lincoln was removed confirms it. 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..."
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Connections

Referenced in Ebert Presents: At the Movies: Episode #1.14 (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Empty
Performed by Ray LaMontagne
Courtesy of the RCA Records Label
By Arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
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User Reviews

 
Guilty or innocent, "The Conspirator" gets it all right
21 May 2011 | by napierslogsSee all my reviews

"The Conspirator" is an impossible trial to win, but it's tried by the best cast in the best manner possible. Heroes returned home from the Civil War to be greeted by the Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton (Kevin Kline) and other high-profile members of the War Department. President Abraham Lincoln was occupied elsewhere.

After the assassination of Lincoln, we follow not so much the trials of the conspirators, but the trials of lawyer Frederick Aiken (James McAvoy). McAvoy has quickly forged an incredible career where he has a propensity to play the man next to historical figures and provide us with an inside view (like the doctor to Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland" or secretary to Leo Tolstoy in "The Last Station").

Here, McAvoy is the very patriotic soldier-turned-lawyer defending Mary Surrat (Robin Wright), the lone female conspirator. The film focuses only on Surrat's part of the trial of the conspirators, mostly because this film is about her lawyer. A devout supporter of Stanton and the Union, Aiken believed that Surrat was guilty and spent just as much time proving her guilt as her innocence. His internal struggles accepting everything that he had to do and what he should do were rather profound. I also think they make up McAvoy's best performance of his career. Too bad that the Academy will have forgotten it by the time the Oscars come around.

Like the best historical dramas, Redford never comes out and says if he believes that Surrat was innocent or guilty. "The Conspirator" isn't about that. This is about the trial. His views on the use of a military tribunal versus a civil trial are clear.

I was blown away by the impeccable production, the cast, and the sheer atrocities committed by so many of the characters not on trial. There may have been a few artistic licences taken, but I doubt it was with the extremes to which some military personnel will go. The great Kevin Kline and the up-and-coming Johnny Simmons play the two least sympathetic characters in the movie. Phenomenal casting is just one the great aspects of "The Conspirator".


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Frequently Asked Questions

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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:

$15,625,544
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | DTS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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