A motorcycle stunt rider turns to robbing banks as a way to provide for his lover and their newborn child, a decision that puts him on a collision course with an ambitious rookie cop navigating a department ruled by a corrupt detective.
Recounting the chaotic events that occurred in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963, Parkland weaves together the perspectives of a handful of ordinary individuals suddenly thrust into extraordinary circumstances: the young doctors and nurses at Parkland Hospital; Dallas' chief of the Secret Service; an unwitting cameraman who captured what became the most watched and examined film in history; the FBI agents who nearly had the gunman within their grasp; the brother of Lee Harvey Oswald, left to deal with his shattered family; and JFK's security team, witnesses to both the president's death and Vice President Lyndon Johnson's rise to power over a nation whose innocence was forever altered. Written by
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The movie was based on Helter Skelter (1976) prosecutor/author Vincent Bugliosi's book "Four Days in November: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy". That book, as noted in the credits, was an excerpt from his book "Reclaiming History", in which he takes a prosecutorial approach to prove that Lee Harvey Oswald carried out the assassination alone, and systematically debunk conspiracy theories. He began the book after serving as the "prosecutor" in the British documentary On Trial: Lee Harvey Oswald (1986), which conducted a jury "trial" of Oswald. See more »
When nurse Nelson begins treating Oswald, there are blood smudges on her left cheek, in subsequent shots those smudges are gone. See more »
Although based on a true story and depicting real-life people the end credits state: "All characters in this film are fictional and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental." See more »
A numbing experience of the horror before conspiracy theories emerged.
A certain generation gained its knowledge of the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy from Oliver Stone's JFK. Don't get me wrong, JFK remains a fine film, but there's a danger of believing the conspiracies are factual. Parkland, Peter Landesman's directorial debut, doesn't necessarily right any wrongs but it does approach the assassination with a clean slate.
Parkland unfolds the story we are all familiar with, but manages to shock thoroughly as it recounts the events of 22 November 1963 and the immediate aftermath before the conspiracy theories and thoughts of dark dealings beyond the obvious murder emerged. Landesman manages to numb us, playing our own horror and sense of helplessness across the faces of the protagonists before us as their innocence is lost and their faith in humanity is rocked.
Central to Parkland is Abraham Zapruder (Paul Giamatti), the man who inadvertently shot one of the most important 26.6 seconds of film in American history: the arrival of the President's cavalcade and his harrowing, public execution at the hands (probably) of Lee Harvey Oswald. We watch Giamatti's Zapruder evolve from confident boss to shuddering, emotional mess as he realizes just what he has recorded and the impact that footage will have on the world and his own life. It is very easy to view Zapruder as a fortunate man, a man who in a lucky half minute, shot himself fame and financial security, but Giamatti flawlessly portrays a man who just might crumple permanently under the weight and pressure from the police, the Secret Service, the press...
At every turn in Parkland there is another character recoiling in their own horror, undergoing their own life-changing trauma, and each is played with the sensitivity demanded in order for Parkland not to be a mawkish, voyeuristic experience.
After last year's The Paperboy (but overlooking the awful The Lucky One), it's definitely time to take Zac Effron seriously as an actor. As Doctor Charles 'Jim' Carrico, the young doctor called upon to put his own emotions aside and fight for the life of his President as the First Lady weeps in the corner holding a chunk of her husband's brain, he looks shell shocked and as numbed by the events as we feel.
Subtler is James Badge Dale as Robert Oswald, another man whose life is irrevocably changed by the actions of a man, who happens to be his brother. At first shocked by the shooting, he retreats into himself as realisation dawns, emerging only to castigate his deluded mother, Marguerite (Jacki Weaver), who sees an opportunity for fame and hero's honours for her youngest son.
But Parkland is such a powerful film for much more than the performances. They say the devil is in the detail and it is the minutia that kicks us in the gut the hardest. The obvious is overlooked in favour of the finer points. We never see the Zapruder film clearly or in its entirety but the sound of Jim Carrico pumping the President's chest while the gathered crowd watches silently and without hope, goes right through us. The handle of the coffin torn off as the agents lift it out of the hearse, the panic as they realise it will not fit into Air Force One, the hasty removal of the aircraft panel with saw and shoulder... They all serve to make the situation real, the horror genuine and immediate.
Landesman has created a film of morality; not just the obvious judgment towards murder, but the more difficult matters of a church burial for a man despised by the population, the suspicion thrown at the family and the blame levied at those who could have prevented the act if they had had the benefit of foresight. Parkland is an emotional journey the delivers a series of punches to leave us reeling.
Yes, we know the story, even though we may not have even breathed our first breath in 1963, but have we experienced the emotion before now?
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