Friday, January 6, 2012

The Conspirator

The Conspirator may not be the best movie I've seen this year, although it is very good, but the best thing about it is the faith it restores in me in film as a medium.  I am a self-described movie glutton; I watch a lot of movies.  Many of them don't even make it on this blog.  (Sometimes that's the case because I watch a movie that's so bad, I'm embarrassed even to admit I've watched it.  Like the made-for-TV movie I watched last night.  It's so bad I'm not even going to tell you the name!  Other times, it's just that I fall behind in my posts, and put off blogging until I can barely remember a movie enough to say anything about it.)

Back to The Conspirator.  The story begins with the assassination of President Lincoln and the arrest of the conspirators who worked with John Wilkes Booth to pull it off.  One of the conspirators was John Surratt.  He and his cohorts met at his mother's boarding house for their planning sessions.  John is the only conspirator to slip away; his mother, Mary, is arrested and held less for her complicity in the conspiracy than for her usefulness as bait for John.
Believe it or not, Mary is Buttercup, from The Princess Bride.
I have no idea how historically accurate the movie is.  I think it follows historical events fairly closely.  The main plot surrounds Frederick Aiken's defense of Mary.  He unsuccessfully prevents her from being the first woman executed by the U.S. government.  With the period costumes and sets, the movie draws the viewer into the period, telling a story that is not only historically significant but also gripping.  I'm left thinking about how a nation which suffers a major blow seeks out someone against whom to retaliate.  A nation mourning the death of their president found the conspirators to blame and punish; quick, retributive punishment became more important than truth and justice.  After the attacks of 9/11, I wonder how much retribution was done at the expense of trust and justice. . . .  Just a thought.

Bottom line, 3 stars.

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