Yesterday marked 48 years since that fateful day in Dallas where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dealey Plaza. When possible, I mark the anniversary with a viewing of Oliver Stone’s 1991 epic JFK, a three-hour ode to the problematic points in the Warren Report and chronicle of New Orleans D.A. Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) to set the records straight. Unfortunately, this year I was able to screen the film for the anniversary, but may likely catch up a day late tonight.
Why do I screen this film almost annually in remembrance of a man who died 20 years before I was born? The answer is simple: I believe that on that day an injustice took place in this country that destroyed the innocence of a nation and propelled a recovering country into a senseless state of war and social mayhem. With current times seemingly reliving the unrest and anguish of the period after Kennedy’s death, it seems even more so fitting to celebrate the life of a man who wanted to avoid war, avoid discrimination and avoid social injustice.
Not only do I feel that Oliver Stone’s film is an important historical piece, but it is also a brilliant movie. Rarely do you see a film so perfect, and I think the reason stems from Stone’s own personal feelings on the subject matter. With an all-star cast, beautiful Oscar-winning cinematography and editing, JFK embodies all the elements that make so many question the “official” findings of the Warren Report, which concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald, acting on his own volition, was the sole gunman from the sixth floor of the Texas Book Depository. The film, as does the content, urges one to lift the veil from over their eyes and search for the truth. One or two complications of fact doesn’t warrant a conspiracy, but when you have more contradictions than evidence on any subject, there can be no other way to classify it.
Over the years, I’ve collected quite a collection of books on Kennedy’s death from “Best Evidence” to a fine copy of the Warren Report itself. Now, even 20 years after Stone’s film, it’s still hard to say whether we’ve come much further in regards to hard evidence on the case. The real theme, however, of the film is to never give up. When there is injustice, it takes those who seek the truth to hunt it down and right the wrongs, no matter the length of time passed, no matter the change of era. As mentioned earlier, now is as good a time as any to carry such a mind set. We live in times that could make or break our country, and no matter the cost, we have to be willing to fight for justice, equality and what is right. As the age old quote states, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” This film professes that logic and is a great example of how a piece of filmmaking can invigorate and incite people to search for what they feel is right.