If anything, Oliver Stone's 1991 pseudo propaganda film 'JFK' certainly
infuriated many who believed that Stone had no right to mix together
film clips of authenticity with his own injection of the truth.
Outraged media jackals still draw references to Stone and this film when
making a point, mostly to complain about the inaccuracies of a certain
scenario. It just so happens that I admire Stone for his complex and
PROVEN statement that a conspiracy took place in the murder of John F.
Because of the shocking nature of the assassination, a quick rush to
judgment, called the Warren Commission, tried to calm America's fears of
a government over throw and blamed everything on a half baked ex-Marine
using a rifle with a faulty scope. Like most important fragments of
historical documentation, they sometimes aren't recognized for what they
are at the time of their occurrence until years later when the whole mix
has time to settle and the public ranks it in order of importance. Most
surveyed at the time 'JFK' came out, believed that the Warren
Commission's findings were severely flawed. A much different opinion in
contrast to the first release of the report in 1964.
I'm not about to go over the entire process of re-creating the
assassination scenario but over 80% of people surveyed believe there was
a conspiracy. Where Stone makes a mistake in his film is in the
outright declaration of multiple government forces strung together to
kill the president. Certainly, it is a good theory that some body of
government probably had a hand at bringing down Kennedy's presidency but
Stone should have pin pointed one theory instead of speculating on many
different organizations. Television's 'The X-Files makes assumptions
that a government conspiracy is on its way to changing the outright
lifestyle of America's (and perhaps the world's) civilization, but the
show only portrays dark figures in the commission of these crimes and
points the finger directly at no one. A smart style of presentation.
In fairness, Stone does point out that Kennedy was killed because he
would have withdrawn troops from Vietnam and eventually the profitable
war machine would have slowed down and the war never would have taken
place. A good theory but as debatable as any other to come along.
The film opens with a startling mix of edited clips from documented
history which have a narrative added to them and the moments leading up
to the assassination are pin pointed. Word of this reaches New Orleans
district attorney Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) who witnesses the
breaking news of it all on television along with a colleague and the
weekend that follows is as crazy to everyone in the D.A.'s office as the
entire staff witnesses on television the murder of JFK's accused
assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald (Gary Oldman). Things settle down but
Garrison is strangely drawn back into the investigation of the
presidents death three years later, in 1966.
Throughout the course of the investigation which wraps up after a trial
in 1969, when Garrison unsuccessfully prosecuted an internationally
known businessman named Clay Shaw (Tommy Lee Jones), 'JFK' movies like a
high tech thriller which combines the most gripping photography and
impressive editing ever seen in motion pictures. Both the editing and
camera work were awarded well deserved Oscars.
Oliver Stone's "in your face" style of film presentation is done with
the most multi-media like tools. Using echoed and sharp sound effects,
black and white photography, slow motion and many other mixes of film
enhancement, Stone certainly holds nothing back and those who criticized
the film as fiction only did more to enhance the film's appeal in making
people want to see it.
'JFK' answers no serious questions for most who were around at the time
of the assassination, but the film raises some very interesting points
and although Oliver Stone's career has been sagging somewhat since it
came out, at least Stone's protest against the alleged cover-up that
took place in 1963 is a testament to one man's courage using the world's
most emotional medium.
Copyright © 1996 Walter Frith