Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—The Conspirator (2011) ***

PG-13, 122 min.
Director: Robert Redford
Writers: James Solomon, Gregory Bernstein
Starring: James McAvoy, Robin Wright, Kevin Kline, Evan Rachel Wood, Tom Wilkinson, Justin Long, Danny Huston, James Badge Dale, Colm Meaney, Alexis Bledel, Johnny Simmons, Toby Kebbell, Jonathan Groff, Stephen Root, John Cullum, Norman Reedus, John Michael Weatherly, Marcus Hester, Chris Bauer, Jim True-Frost, Shea Whigham, David Andrews

I’m sure after today there will be many citizens contemplating the assassination of whichever candidate wins the presidency. I suppose our biggest comfort in the coming days will be that most people who oppose each of the candidates will be more afraid of their running mates becoming president than whoever actually winds up being our latest president. Small comfort, but consider that there were days in this country’s history when its citizens were even more divided about how it was being run.

Robert Redford’s “The Conspirator” takes a look at the days following the assassination of President Lincoln and the final surrenders of the confederate generals of the Civil War. People’s passions about politics at that time were even greater than much of the vitriolic rhetoric we hear in every media outlet today, and with good reason. Our country had almost been torn apart by war and the assassination of the President threatened to send it right back into war.

“The Conspirator” isn’t really about the Civil War or the assassination, however. It’s about the trial of civilians by a military tribunal. It’s about the ideals that were fought for in the war. It’s about the idealistic foundations of our country as a whole and how such a treatment of civilians is a gross injustice against such ideals. 

Mary Surratt was convicted and hung, not by a jury of her peers, but by a board of military generals out for revenge under the guise of an expedited trial for the good of the country. It seems that in the times when we need our ideals the most is when they are tested and threatened the most. Each side has flung many lies and unfair attacks during this current presidential campaign. Grosser offenses have been claimed by the citizens desperate to join a tribe on one side or the other. It seems we are fast approaching another time when this country will be forced into the change so dramatically achieved by the Civil War. Hopefully, we can learn from the mistakes of our past and approach that change more reasonably than by killing the other side’s leader or going to war with our brothers. So I hope you all voted and I hope we can all forgive each other tomorrow.

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