Monday, October 24, 2011

The Conspirator Review

With the advent of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War Hollywood has begun releasing more Civil War-era films. I recently watched Robert Redford’s Civil War film The Conspirator which focuses on the days after President Lincoln’s assassination, starring James McAvoy and Robin Wright. Portions of it felt almost like a blend of documentary and drama, but what I liked in particular was the film’s attention to detail regarding period dress, patterns of speech, and contemporary attitudes of the time.

As a writer of historical fiction, particularly Civil War fiction, I’m always interested to see popular Civil War films such as Cold Mountain, Gettysburg, and Gone with the Wind. Overall, I’d say that Robert Redford does a decent job in directing The Conspirator and I’d probably give him four out of five stars. You can rent it or Redbox it today.

So what types of films have you seen in the last year or two that relate to your genre of writing? Do you find the latest Hollywood depictions encouraging or just a lot of hype? What types of historical movies would you like to see produced on the big screen?     


  1. Have you watched the HBO series on John Adams? Clearly not civil war, but one of my favorite historical pieces none the less!

  2. I'm uneasy about watching historical movies unless I don't know anything about the period. One too many movies ruined by learning more have left a bitter taste in my mouth. That said, Victorian England I can never resist (The Young Victoria was simply gorgeous eye candy!).

  3. I hadn't heard of this movie for some reason, which is odd because I'm a huge fan of Redford and McAvoy.

    My novel is a post-apocalyptic fantasy, but most of the movies out deal with the actual event or the immediate aftermath, while my novel takes place hundreds of years after the big event. Haven't found too many other stories that deal with that particular timeframe. But those movies are really great for giving me a visual of all the destruction. I just let my imagination take it from there.

  4. Just about any science fiction or superhero film fuels me with idea.

  5. Inception--since I write Science Fiction. I tend to watch a lot of Fantasy, despite the fact I've been writing less and less of it recently.

  6. Hello Mark:
    We do rather like films with a historical basis but, surprisingly, we have not heard about this particular film. On your recommendation, we now feel that it is possibly one to watch!

  7. Hello Mark: I like Gone with the wind and Gettysburg. The others I have not seen. I am reminded of the Kevin Costner JFK film. I recall Tom Brokaw on a talk show mentioning how people remember all the details of that film, which were incidentally entirely inaccurate, and know very little about the actual facts. When it comes to historic films like for facts to be presented as facts. I realize that they present it as historic fiction but when they use the actual names and events that have occurred they mix fact and fiction.
    I have to check out Conspirator. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. Wishing you a great week!

  8. There aren't a lot of good movies around in the genre of fantasy, which is my genre. But I also write scfi and there's qite a few great ones.

  9. I've given up on genre, but I suppose closest would be mystery & thriller. Can't think of any good recent films (and few good books for that matter).

    While there's a strong historical component to my latest WIP, I'm not a big fan of historically based Hollywood films. The King's Speech was an excellent movie, but my preference is for documentaries. Two recently viewed: The Children of Chabannes & The Sorrow and Pity. Both were riveting.

  10. I'm making good progress on your manuscript. I should be done with it by the end of this week, no later than Sunday.

  11. J.A. – I have watched the John Adams series, and I particularly liked the first two episodes.

    Steph- Sometimes I find historical inaccuracies off-putting, but it’s still cool to see it on film. I haven’t seen the young Victoria, but heard it’s good.

    L.G. – Redford and McAvoy are definitely cool, and worth watching:) I know there’s lots of post-apocalyptic films out there, but they may not quite be similar to what you’re going for in your book.

    Alex – Yup, tons of sci fi out there for your genre:)

    Eagle – Although sci fi and fantasy are different their audiences often read similar books, so they influence each other quite a bit.

    Jane/Lance – Hope that you like it!

    LittleJeans – It’s true that people tend to remember what they seen in movies rather than what they heard in history class, but I doubt that’ll ever change. Surprised that you liked Gettysburg, because outside of my fellow Civil War reenactors I don’t know a lot of mainstream people that are into it. Glad to hip you to the Conspirator as well:)

    Lynda – Indeed, I enjoy watching movies in those genres myself.

    VR – Wow, those sound like intriguing documentaries…I’ll have to check them out, thanks!

    McKenzie – No worries, very much appreciated!!! :)

  12. I loved Inception, since once genre I write is fantasy. The way they messed with my head was amazing.

    As far as movies that were adapted from books, I loved The Help, which was a period piece. Wonderfully done.

  13. Outside of kids movies I haven't seen many shows within my writing genre. I want to rent some suspense thrillers like Salt. ANd I've been catching up on Dexter Season 5. But that's about it.

  14. I love historical fiction and a good movie that is historically accurate is hard to find.

  15. As a fellow (Is there a female version of this word?) author of Civil War-era novels, I appreciate this blog post, Mark.

  16. I find most movies inspiring in some way. Even if a movie isn't the genre I write, I usually pick up something useful about characterization, tension, or plot development. And I love historical fiction and historical era movies, especially those that deal with the American Revolution and Civil War.

  17. Donna – I heard that was really good, but have yet to see it:)

    Stephen – There are def some really good kid’s programs out there…I personally love the cheesy 1980’s films like Labyrinth, Legend, and Neverending Story.

    Miranda – Very true, but like perfect, it doesn’t stop me from looking for better;)

    Michelle – Glad you like it!

    Cynthia – That’s a very good point, even the most inane movies often have at least one or two really neat points that make a person think. Glad to meet another history enthusiast:)