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Chalk It Up: JFK (1991)

This is a guest post from Zoë Saunders. Previously…

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I recently watched Oliver Stone’s JFK (1991) on an airplane – weird choice, Delta, but it did keep me in my seat with seatbelt fastened, frenetically eating complimentary pretzels and biscuits like a crazed and crumb-covered conspiracy theorist. I was born long after the shooting, so missed the first few waves of conspiracy fever, but this film grabs the attention and plants the seeds of doubt: Why that route? Did Oswald act alone? How many shots in how few seconds? How high up does this cover-up go? Now I’ve got my calendar marked for the scheduled declassification of files in 2029!

Content aside – and it should be taken aside, as Stone apparently took considerable creative liberty with the “facts” – the film is remarkably well made, with a special attention to merging medium and message that won it two Academy Awards for Best Cinematography and Best Film Editing. I went back to read a review by Roger Ebert and agree with his assessment that the film’s visual style (a nonlinear jigsaw of diverse media including black and white, color, documentary footage, reenactments, still photos, etc.) mirrors the confused jumble of facts and theory which has been presented to the public. No answers here, but plenty of questions, and more importantly, a thoughtful reflection on the emotional impact this tragedy had on the American public, more than 60% of whom still believe it was a conspiracy.

JFK poster chalk drawing illustration chalkboard

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Great image for Oliver Stone’s JFK, which is colorful, simple and patriotic on the outside…but full of dark twisted machinations on the inside!

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