On November 22, 1963, president John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas. Lee Harvey Oswald is arrested for the crime and subsequently shot by Jack Ruby, supposedly avenging the president's death. An investigation concludes that Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby acted alone in their respective crimes, but Louisiana district attorney Jim Garrison is skeptical. Assembling a trusted group of people, Garrison conducts his own investigation, bringing about backlash from powerful government and political figures. Written by
During the conversation between Jim Garrison and X, there is a close-up of a desktop nameplate which is partially obscured. It reads "M/Gen. E.G... nsd... e", and is a reference to Edward G. Lansdale of the United States Air Force. Lansdale is the subject of the book "JFK and Vietnam" by John M. Newman, one of the film's technical advisors. See more »
At the end of the movie when the trial is going on, Lou Ivon's suit changes from one color to another then back again. See more »
"To sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards of men." - Ella Wheeler Wilcox
...We have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. And to do this three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishement. We annually spend on military security alone...
January, 1961. President Dwight D. Eisenhowers's Farewell Address to the Nation.
...This conjunction of an immense military establishment and arms industry ...
[...] See more »
Closing statement: What Is Past Is Prologue See more »
"JFK" was and remains so controversial that any positive reviews (not to say they were characteristic) it received were dwarfed by the trashing to which it was subjected in the official press, which started well before it was released. This was disturbing, for what is the big need -- it is just a movie. But to so many "JFK" was not, it was somehow threatening.
Ultimately, it does not matter whether JFK's conclusion is correct, and I am even willing to give a little more license than I normally would to more-substantive, as well as less-important, inaccuracies, although I have my limits here too. But this movie's significance is just that it was made. For although other films had chronicled the events surrounding the assassination, none had in any substantial way sought to discredit the Warren Commission, as was so absolutely merited.
Regardless of your opinion on what really happened, it is my view that everyone should be critical of the media, which were so obsequious to the Warren Commission. The New York Times from the start referred to Oswald as the "assassin," not the "suspect." Life Magazine altered photos strongly suggesting a shot had been fired from the grassy knoll. Many years later, when being interviewed by Dan Rather about his film, Oliver Stone said to his face, referring to the event: "Where were you, Dan?"
Indeed, in a documentary he made, Rather said, "in the absence of any CREDIBLE evidence, we can only..." This fallacy is a betrayal of the legal definition of evidence, with Rather's poor characterization of the word "credible." There is enormous, indeed endless, evidence contradicting the Warren Commission's view, and much of it is certainly credible, including all the evidence of the Commission's own efforts to conduct a dishonest and incomplete investigation and intimidate witnesses into changing their testimony to support the version it wanted. In fact, I consider it Gerald Ford's greatest character flaw that he served on it and backed its conduct and conclusion, a far more disturbing matter than his pardon of Nixon. Whether the evidence to which Rather referred is CONCLUSIVE is another story; that is up to us, the jury. The sort of smugness Rather shows has been characteristic of much of the media, and I do not know all the reasons they behaved as they did. Thus, we needed a more courageous, enterprising person like Oliver Stone to step in and fill the gap -- the overwhelming majority of people believe the Commission got it wrong.
Stone's enlistment of mere hypotheticals, theorized by Garrison (setting aside the final scene--there were moments before) or whoever, has been subjected to unfair, ill-conceived criticism. Most people who knew anything at all about the assassination believed there were problems with the Commission's version before they saw this film, and came out of it with an elaboration and hypothesis, not a mindbender. Even if we concede that some younger viewers knew little about the assassination, the notion of the critics of "JFK" that the film would automatically program their minds is an insult to their intelligence, of the ability of people in general to think and come to their own conclusions. Indeed, no one to whom I have EVER spoken has betrayed a view of events that reflects even most, if not all, of Stone's conclusions. If any programming is called for, it is to program people against the Commission's version, not, as its defenders would wish, against Stone. For no one can be programmed to accept Stone's alternate view.
OK, some inaccuracies of Stone can be criticized, such as his portrayal of Garrison (All-American Kevin Costner, natch) as a wholesome hero, and the time-between-shots issue (it is now generally conceded that there was enough time, based on all the evidence, for Oswald to have done it, for those who believe he did). Perhaps the speech by David Ferrie never occurred, but it still reflects the widely held view that the CIA and Mafia worked together in this matter. Certainly, many people in the government despised Kennedy, and there were substantially more elements of this hostility than portrayed in the film. Anyway, we can go on and on. The Warren Commission tried to cover up overwhelming evidence that Ruby knew Oswald, that a shot was fired from the grassy knoll, that a dark-skinned man fired shots from the Dallas School Book Depository, and that Officer Tippit was killed by someone other than Oswald (actually, two people). Well, at least some members resisted the single bullet theory (I guess that passes Rather's definition of "credible"), although they ultimately signed the report.
I do not agree with Oliver Stone's specific ultimate conclusion about the central moving force of the assassination. But he has the right to suggest the U.S. government was involved, and many, including myself, think it was involved somehow, but that what is debatable is merely to what extent and how far up. Hats off to Stone for his courage and thoughtfulness in making his necessary statement.
9 out of 10
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