Oliver Stone loves a big story that flirts with controversy, think Natural Born Killers, Platoon and this year’s W, a life story of George W Bush. With JFK, Stone has Kevin Costner as New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison investigate the assassination of John F Kennedy.
Garrison mounts a case over the first 2 hours of the film that disproves the lone gunman theory, ie, that Lee Harvey Oswald could have been the only gunman that shot Kennedy. He further states that the entire government and security forces conspired to kill the President and keep the truth from being made public. As Hitler said, “the bigger the lie, the more the people will believe it.”
The final hour of the film is Garrison retelling the story you have just seen unfold, in the courtroom.
Costner is indefatigable as the prosecutor in this case, the only case ever tried in the United States regarding the death of Kennedy. His support characters all demonstrate the intelligent and legal thinking that went into the script while the government, Mafia and intelligence forces are all played by known actors, enjoying their roles as ne’er do wells : Tommy Lee Jones, Joe Pesci, Donald Sutherland, John Candy, Kevin Bacon and Gary Oldman as the unfortunate Oswald.
This is an interesting piece of history, not something that I lived through and as such does not have the same resonance as I imagine it would had you some memory of that time in 1963. It is always said that people remember where they were when JFK was shot, similar perhaps to this generation’s reaction to the death of Lady Diana.
The film raises a number of issues which question the heart of a government that condones war in another country and will silence critics who speak out against it. Let us hope and pray that the new governments of Obama and Rudd have sufficient conviction and fortitude to lead with honesty and integrity.