JFK on film: the cinema of assassination in 2013

The assassination of President Kennedy was, among other things, a seminal event in the history of mediated imagery.

From the moment Abraham Zapruder captured the gunfire that killed the president to Olvier Stone’s 1991 hit “JFK”, to the present when Hollywood still seek to explore, exploit, and explain November 22, 1963, projected film has been a key–perhaps the key–to the way we visualize and understand JFK’s death.

Over the past year, JFK Facts has highlighted “The cinema of assassination inspired by JFK” (May 2, 2013).

We observed that “The JFK film industry is booming.” (May 28, 2013) and noted that, contrary to media myth, anti-conspiratorial authors seemed to be the chief beneficiaries.

We’ve listed “14 conspiracy movies inspired by Dallas” (Nov. 18 2013) ranging from 1966 art-house triller “Blow-Up” to “The Parallax View” (preview below) to  Angelina Jolie’s star turn as “Salt,” all of which show just how deeply engrained fears of secret power has become engrained in the American imagination.

We covered the most highly-touted JFK film of the year, Peter Landesmann’s “Parkland.” We reprinted an interview in which Landesman talked about why he made the film.  We considered the movie’s political message in “Tom Hanks and the modified limited hangout of ‘Parkland.’

We asked the impertinent question, “Can Zac Efron save the Warren Commission?”  and concluded the answer, alas, was “No.” We turned to British writer to explain why the movie proved a bust, both critically and commercially in “Autopsy of ‘Parkland,” the JFK movie that was DOA”  (Dec. 9, 2013).

We denounced the bogus JFK theory hyped by a Reelz Channel documentary.

We screened a preview of Shane O’Sullivan’s hard-hitting new documentary, “Killing Oswald, (trailer above) and examined “The escapist impulse of ‘Letters to Jackie,” (June 20, 2013).

We wondered “Which David Mamet will direct his JFK film?”  (May 18, 203) and took notes of “‘The Bystander Theory,’ which offers an indie take on JFK. (Sept. 14, 2013)

 

 

 

10 comments

  1. Jonathan says:

    Of the JFK-related movies I’ve seen, Parallax View does the best and most imaginative job of showing how a patsy can be set up. Pure fiction; chilling.

    Executive Action does the best job of showing the nature of the plotters — powerful, wealthy men, deep in the shadows. I think Executive Action, although it dodges the issue of government involvement in the cover-up, cuts close to the nerve.

    Oliver Stone’s JFK was too much fiction for me, but it achieved a mighty a goal, a partial re-examination of the documentary record.

    • Ramon F Herrera says:

      “Oliver Stone’s JFK was too much fiction for me”

      You need to check the meaning of the term “fiction”. It is similar to the definition of “lie”. They both have to be incorrect AND on *purpose*. If the author believes to be conveying factual information, it cannot be neither lie nor fiction.

      Additionally, Mr. Stone enjoys a prerogative known as “Artistic License”, his movie was not meant to be a documentary. His job was not unlike one of journalism and academia, who have the duty to dig into provocative issues. We may call him a agent provocateur.

    • John Kirsch says:

      Jonathan, I see a little bit of a contradiction in your comment.
      You use the word “imaginative” to describe “The Parallax View” and I gather from the rest of your comment about the film that you enjoyed it. I did, too. The things that happened seemed incredible and believable at the same time.
      But then you say “JFK” “was too much fiction” for you.
      To me, fiction and imagination go hand in hand. In any event, I don’t think “JFK” was presented as any sort of documentary. It was a product of Hollywood, like “The Parallax View.”
      The point, for me, is that neither film, but especially “JFK” would have had such resonance if the Warren Commission had actually told us the truth about what happened in Dallas.

  2. Hans Trayne says:

    It’s interesting that Hollywood picked up on & helped spread the speculation that Abraham Zapruder somehow had foreknowledge of JFK’s ambush in its 1981 Brian De Palma film, ‘Blow Out’ yet in spite of the multitude of literature advancing the theory that Zapruder’s film was falsified by government operatives has not approached that subject at all in 50 years. To get visual lessons in Zapruder film tampering one need look to YouTube or read David Lifton’s 2003 essay, ‘The Pig On A Leash’ or Doug Horne’s ‘Inside The ARRB’ series.

    Also, Hollywood has avoided the topic of the small fortune Marina Oswald was paid after JFK’s assassination from a ‘movie company’ that folded before any movie was made. Evidently, such topics are too taboo for Hollywood for some reason.

  3. anonymous says:

    David Talbot wrote that when it comes to JFK, Hollywood can’t handle the truth:
    http://www.salon.com/2011/04/01/kennedys_in_hollywood/

    Last week,The IBTimes wrote that despite the enormous 50th anniversary media coverage, there was little coverage of what; public officials thought occurred.Jacqueline Kennedy, RFK didn’t believe in the lone nutter theory:

    http://www.ibtimes.com/jfk-assassination-jacqueline-kennedy-rfk-did-not-believe-only-one-person-assassinated-president-john

    They also give another update:
    “Morley is the plaintiff in the ongoing Morley v. CIA suit, which seeks to make public Joannides’ classified files.”

  4. TLR says:

    I don’t know if it was mentioned elsewhere, but there’s a 1969 spaghetti western called THE PRICE OF POWER which is basically a retelling of the JFK assassination (set in the Old West) from a conspiracy angle.

  5. Preston Newe says:

    Hollywood is starving itself of interesting stories in the withheld JFK files by not throwing its clout behind Jeff Morley’s & a few dedicated others in their tireless crusade to give the citizens their uncensored history via transparency. Oliver Stone’s controversial ‘JFK’ movie demonstrated what a brave film director/producer with a backbone can accomplish; ‘Parkland’ demonstrated what ‘timid’ harvests. Hollywood’s bank accounts would be larger if it tackled the questions the public has about JFK’s problematic murder.

  6. Jordan says:

    “Le Peige Americain ” c. 2008 portrays very well it’s lingua franca translation to “The American Patsy”, if you can find it.

  7. John Kirsch says:

    Actually, I think 11/22 is a subtext to many interesting films. In the absence of a convincing official account of the assassination, the nation has been trying to come to terms with the loss of the president through its most democratic art form, film.
    In “The Godfather: Part II” released 11 years after 11/22, Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) says “If anything in this life is certain, if history has taught us anything, it is that you can kill anyone.” The immediate context is a discussion about exacting revenge on the enemies of the Corleone family but whenever I see that scene, I always think the subtext is Dallas.
    In a similar vein, the public shooting of Hyman Roth (Lee Strasberg) is very reminiscent of Ruby’s shooting of Oswald.

  8. John Kirsch says:

    I would recommend “Flashpoint” from 1984, with Kris Kristofferson and Treat Williams as border guards who happen upon a jeep abandoned 20 years ago. The jeep contains a skeleton, a scoped rifle and $800K in cash and the clues tie back to Dealey Plaza, although 11/22 is not really the main focus of the story.
    Kurtwood Smith plays an evil government agent who talks about Dallas near the end of the movie. Unfortunately, I can’t remember what he said and the movie is hard to find.
    The only thing I could find online is a YouTube version where Smith delivers his speech re: 11/22 in some foreign language I don’t understand.
    It’s a good thriller and should have gotten more business than it did.
    The film is another example of how Hollywood deals indirectly with 11/22, when it deals with it at all.

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