Click on the headline to link to a Wikipedia entry for Robert Redford’s The Conspirator.
The Conspirator, directed by Robert Redford, American Film Company, 2010
Round- up everybody in sight, storm into houses without search warrants grabbing everything in sight, make the rules of evidence and procedure as you go along (as opposed to some vaunted “rule of law” that is the norm), trial by military commission rather than civilian trial by a jury of peers when such courts are open, suspension of the writ of habeas corpus (bring forth the body-to some court for adjudication of a wrong), no right of appeal, torture, and execution. All episodes from today’s “war of terror” as the American government (and others as well) round up the bad guys, or whoever they suspect of being the bad guys.
Well, yes. But also, according to this Robert Redford –directed first film in the American Film Company production line, the prevailing atmosphere on the Union side, political, legal and military around those who conspired to kill Abraham Lincoln (and Vice-President Johnson and Secretary Of State Seward) along with John Wilkes Booth. The film centers on the pre-trial and trial events of the only woman brought to trial in the conspiracy (it was at her boarding house where conspiracy was advanced), Mary E. Surratt who was tried before a Union Army military commission, and eventually the first woman hanged by the federal government, for her part in the conspiracy.
We all, those of us who revere the historic memory of Abraham Lincoln are glad, glad as hell that the south and slavery were defeated. We are nevertheless as supporters of democratic rights now (and hopefully back then, as well) concerned about the modern day issues that this film brings out whether we are sympathetic to Mary Surratt’s plight (or those of today’s political prisoners). Watch this thought-provoking film which is a well-done production highlighting these issues without being maudlin about it.