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THE CONSPIRATOR

Introduction
A riveting thriller, The Conspirator tells a powerful and true story about America then and now.

The film is directed by Robert Redford from a script by James Solomon and is being produced by The American Film Company in association with Wildwood Enterprises. In addition to JAMES McAVOY and ROBIN WRIGHT, the film features a stellar ensemble cast comprised of KEVIN KLINE, EVAN RACHEL WOOD, TOM WILKINSON, ALEXIS BLEDEL, DANNY HUSTON, JUSTIN LONG, COLM MEANEY, and JAMES BADGE DALE. A SHOCKING ACT OF VIOLENCE

The Conspirator explores the national reaction to Lincoln's assassination in the aftermath of what was, at the time, the most shocking murder in U.S. History. Director Robert Redford, states, "The film deals with the harsh efforts to keep the political polarization of the time from worsening. The country was deeply divided, not just North and South, but also between those in government who wanted to place post-war punishments and restrictions on the defeated South that would cause suffering and resentment among the Confederates and those, like Lincoln, who wanted a more moderate, conciliatory reconstruction.”

Producer Brian Falk says he and The American Film Company were intrigued by Booth's misguided efforts "to decapitate the federal government. This is one of those stories that everybody thinks they know, but it really is a story that nobody knows.

Everybody understands that Abraham Lincoln was killed by an actor named John Wilkes Booth. What they don't know is that it's part of this much larger, more complex conspiracy.”

The Conspirator tells the story of Mary Surratt who was the only woman charged in the conspiracy to kill Abraham Lincoln. The conspirators, including Mary's son, John, met at her boardinghouse and some of them roomed there. Had they discussed the assassination during those meetings? Did Mary know? Did she conspire with them?

Even today, we don't know. The scriptwriter, James Solomon, is sure the prosecution thought she was guilty. "There's no question in my mind that Edwin Stanton, the Secretary of War, and Joseph Holt, the Judge Advocate General thought she was guilty and there's no question in my mind that her defense lawyer, Frederick Aiken, thought she was innocent. Perhaps the truth is somewhere between both points of view and I think that's sort of where I would like it to be, because the ambiguity is the most truthful.”

The film's director, Robert Redford, elaborates, "The Conspirator concerns more than one conspiracy. There was the assassination, of course, but there was also a conspiracy of political expediency.” Stanton, as Secretary of War and one of Lincoln's closest advisors, was a powerful force in government. While the others in the administration were stunned and in mourning, and with Secretary of State Seward gravely injured, Stanton took control of investigating the crime and prosecuting the conspirators.

As Redford observes, "Everyone knew the recent surrender ending the war represented a tenuous peace, at best. The assassination was a direct threat to that peace . . . Stanton quickly dealt with this threat by devising an immediate, final and cathartic solution. He took shortcuts to do that and was able to persuade legal and military leaders to support his efforts.”

Stanton's efforts took the form of a quick military tribunal and immediate execution. Clearly, he was intending to publicly avenge Lincoln's death, make the Union more secure, and move the nation beyond this tragic event.

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