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Everyone has heard the story of President Kennedy's murder and most have been left feeling very confused. Conspiracy Theorists Lie is the story you haven't heard; an in depth look at the ... See full summary »
James K. Lambert
William F. Buckley,
I was in the Toronto Globe and Mail newspaper's library when I heard the news of Kennedy's assassination. Thus began a great mystery in the U.S. and around the world that continues to this day. Trillions of words and thousands of books have been written about the assassination, and that alone tells us that there is no one satisfactory theory about why or how Kennedy was murdered.
Robert Stone's documentary is both odd and disjointed. As someone else on this board has already noted, director Stone starts off with a reasonably balanced view of the assassination, leads us through various conspiracy theories and talking heads, and then, boom, just like that, in the final 10 minutes, allows noted author Norman Mailer to wrap it up for us: Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.
Mailer offers his 'evidence' more from a novelist's point of view than from one of evidence. Mailer's 'proof': Oswald was living in desperate straits, he was frustrated but bright and articulate, he had delusions of grandeur, he wanted a permanent place in American history, he worked in a building on the parade route, and voila: it all came together.
Director Stone ends his movie focused on Mailer's fanciful artistic interpretation of events (Oswald's ghost knows the answers, but a ghost will not tell us). It's quizzical to say the least.
Mailer (and ultimately filmmaker Stone himself) leaves out a glaring contradiction that still stares at conspiracy theorists today. It's a glaring contradiction not wrapped in Maileresque language: the famous Zapruder film (now digitalized for even more vivid inspection), which clearly shows that Kennedy had the top of his head blown off by a shot from the FRONT, not from the Texas Schoolbook Depository in the rear, where Lee Harvey Oswald was purportedly firing three shots in six seconds.
It is peculiar that Mailer, Stone, Elliott Jay Epstein (author of a book on the murder), former student radical-activist Todd Gatlin, and disgraced former Senator Gary Hart have all attached themselves to the 'single gunman' theory. Oswald may well have been involved up to his skinny little neck, but it still doesn't explain Zapruder's remarkable film, which has nothing to do with Oswald the Man, but merely frightening evidence that something else was happening on that fateful day in November 1963. That 'something else' has never been explained, and this film basically ignores it.
This film ultimately leaves the viewer with more questions than answers. Exactly what we needed: even more questions about the Kennedy assassination.
'Oswald's Ghost' left me with this uncomfortable feeling that too many people are desperate to put this whole messy business behind us. It is, after all, much easier, and much neater, to blame it all on a single shooter who also happened to be crazy.
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