First look: 'Conspirator' follows the drama after Lincoln's death

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Any grade-school student can tell you the story of the 1865 assassination of Abraham Lincoln in Ford's Theater at the hand of John Wilkes Booth.

But what happened next?

Robert Redford's new film, The Conspirator, follows the race to hunt down the small band of Confederate sympathizers who helped plot the attack.

Think of it as Law & Order: Civil War Unit.

James McAvoy (Atonement) stars as a decorated Union soldier who reluctantly agrees to defend one of the accused, boarding-house owner Mary Surratt (Robin Wright), whose son was the lone conspirator to escape the manhunt.

"There was a question of whether she was complicit, guilty by association, or even more guilty," says Redford, who directs but doesn't star in the movie. "The lawyer that defended her didn't want to defend her. He was a Union soldier who became a lawyer." His contempt for the suspect gives way to a fear that she is being prosecuted solely to bring her fugitive son out of hiding.

The Conspirator is independently financed and doesn't yet have a distributor. It's the first project made by the American Film Co., which plans to create historical dramas....

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