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Robert Redford Takes on Lincoln’s Assassination

Released on the anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination, a new film directed by Robert Redford centers on the tension between civil liberties and national security. 

NPR has called Robert Redford’s new film “a dramatized lecture on civil liberties.” The Conspirator centers on the case of Mary Surratt, who ran the Washington D.C. boarding house where John Wilkes Booth stayed. Surratt was tried and convicted for her role in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and was the first woman executed by the U.S. federal government. 

On February 8, 1915, at Clune’s Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, D. W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation premiered. The fledgling art form of film would never be the same, especially in America, which even half a century after the end of the Civil War struggled to come to terms with race. Now, a century after Birth of a Nation’s premier, America still struggles not only with race, but also with how race plays out on the silver screen. For good and ill, Birth of a Nation marks the beginning of the first 100 years of the American Cinema—epically beautiful, yet often racially ugly.

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