Monday, August 29, 2011

The Conspirator (2011) - HD Trailer

I watched this movie last night.  It was interesting; I learned about events surrounding President Lincoln's assassination that I didn't know.  It made me think about ongoing issues in our country:  trials in a time of war, capital punishment with insufficient evidence, and of course, the trial ended with an amendment making it wrong to try civilians in a military court.  I'm sure the movie was meant to make you think through these things. 

It was beautifully made.  I've been so immersed in British history in preparation for our trip that it felt somewhat strange to delve into American history, but I enjoyed it.  I can't remember a time that I didn't know "Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president, and he was assassinated."  The facts were so familiar that until last night, I never really felt the horror of a good man being shot from behind with his wife at his side.  It was such a tragic and horrible end.  I also didn't realize that the conspirators' plan also included killing Vice President Johnson and the Secretary of State.  

I always enjoy James McAvoy in period pieces, and I'm always impressed by the ability of a Scottish actor to lose the accent and talk like an American.  The costumes and sets were superb, and the lighting was lovely.  After a while I thought, "Wow, every single scene features this lovely sunlight coming in through the windows," and it almost got repetitive, but then I thought maybe that was part of the authenticity.  Besides candles and kerosene lamps, sunlight was all they had.  

The other aspect of the movie I thought was interesting was when they briefly showed the rounding up of John Wilkes Booth and the other conspirators.  I'm definitely used to watching movies portray 21st century manhunts; it was a big contrast seeing it 19th century style, riding through the woods on horseback instead of following the suspect via satellite.  

I think the movie did a good job of portraying that there was uncertainty as to whether Mary Surratt was innocent or guilty, but the bigger issues were her being given a fair trial by a jury of her peers, not a military court that had already found her guilty.  I found the entire transcript of her attorney, Frederick Aiken's, defense of her online.

 God has not only given us life, but He has filled the world with everything to make life desirable; and when we sit down to determine the taking away of that which we did not give, and which, when once taken, we can not restore, we consider a subject the most solemn and momentous within the range of human thought and human action.

"Nobody talks like that anymore."

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