8:00 PM, 15th October, 2011
It is fitting that Robert Redford’s latest directorial effort, The Conspirator, should be the debut film of the American Film Company, a company formed to produce films specifically about American history. Indeed, the film is set against the backdrop of a volatile post-Civil War Washington, in the wake of one of the most infamous moments in American history: the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.
After eight people are arrested in connection with the assassination and charged with conspiring to murder the President, Vice President and Secretary of State, rookie lawyer Frederick Aiken (McAvoy) reluctantly agrees to defend the only woman arrested, Mary Surratt (Wright). Surratt owned the boarding house where John Wilkes Booth and others met to plan their respective assassinations. Though initially believing Surratt to be guilty, Aiken gradually uncovers the shocking truth behind her arrest. In the face of an enraged nation desperate for revenge, Aiken must find a way to save Surratt’s life and ensure that true justice is served.
Based on a true story, the film brings together an all-star cast, which includes McAvoy, Wright, Kline, Tom Wilkinson, Danny Houston, Alexis Bledel, Evan Rachel Wood and Justin Long, among many other familiar faces. If you love American history, or are fascinated by the legal, political, social and moral ramifications of the Lincoln assassination, then come along to the ANU Film Group to experience a first-class courtroom drama.
10:17 PM, 15th October, 2011
** ANUFG 45th Anniversary Screening **
The ANU Film Group first began regular screenings in 1966 - 45 years ago - in the Physics Lecture Theatre on the ANU campus. Since then, the ANUFG has since seen a venue change (to the current Coombs Theatre) and multiple upgrades to our screen, projectors and sound system, in addition to reaching a record high of over 2000 members in 1999.
To Kill a Mockingbird was one of the first films screened by the Group in 1966 (programmes published at the time still exist, and are archived at the National Library) and is being re-screened this semester in commemoration of our 45th year.
Towards the end of his life, Gregory Peck described To Kill a Mockingbird - which won him a Best Actor Academy Award in 1962, pushing out Peter O'Toole, nominated for his debut role in Lawrence Of Arabia and beginning his run as the most nominated person never to win - as his favourite of his many films and the one of which he was most proud.
And it is easy to see why. His dignified and inspirational portrayal of Atticus Finch, the stalwart and quietly principled Southern US lawyer defending a black man against a charge of raping a white woman, set the tone for all such similar narratives and has never been bettered. The film arrived at just the right point in history to make a significant contribution to changing attitudes in support of President John F. Kennedy's human rights campaign aimed at the desegregation of the then-bigoted southern social order.
Adapted from writer Harper Lee's 1960 mega-selling Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, the story is told by Finch's young daughter 'Scout' (Mary Badham) who is initially oblivious to what is occurring about her but soon earns a new measure of respect for her placid, unassuming father. Noteworthy also is that this was Robert Duvall's first role in a feature film.
To Kill a Mockingbird is a beautifully paced, exquisite rendition of 1930s southern America and a very worthy 'book-end' to Get Low, Duvall's latest role, also set in the American South and on the programme this semester. Movies simply do not get better than this - NOT to be missed.