Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The film follows the 1967 to 1969 investigation led by New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison (played by Kevin Costner) and interweaves flashbacks of the theories behind the assassination with actual assassination movie films footage, such as the Zapruder film.
In JFK, as in what actually occurred, Garrison indicted for trial a New Orleans international businessman Clay Shaw for being involved in the conspiracy to murder President John F. Kennedy. In March 1969, a jury acquitted Shaw of the charges after less than an hour of deliberation. Although the film portrays members of that jury stating publicly that they believed there was a conspiracy involved behind the assassination, but that there was not enough evidence presented at trial to link Shaw to the conspiracy, this is mostly based on pro-Garrison books. Other sources have the juries giving different views on the idea of a conspiracy.
The film suggests that President Kennedy was killed by a group opposed to Kennedy's policies, especially his reluctance to invade Cuba as the CIA had planned to overthrow Communist Fidel Castro since 1959, and Kennedy's plan to withdraw American armed forces from the Vietnam War (the President had preliminarily approved a withdrawal of 1,000 men to be completed by the end of 1963). Members of the CIA, Mafia, the military-industrial complex, Secret Service, FBI, and Kennedy's vice-president Lyndon Baines Johnson are also implicated as co-conspirators with motives responsible for Kennedy's assassination and/or the cover-up afterwards. Stone has stated that the movie JFK was "intended as counter-fiction to the Warren Commission's fiction."
JFK stars Kevin Costner, Donald Sutherland, Kevin Bacon, Tommy Lee Jones, Laurie Metcalf, Gary Oldman, Jay O. Sanders , Sissy Spacek, Joe Pesci, Brian Doyle-Murray, Gary Grubbs , Wayne Knight, Vincent D'Onofrio, Michael Rooker and Pruitt Taylor Vince . The movie was adapted by Oliver Stone and Zachary Sklar from the books On the Trail of the Assassins by Jim Garrison and Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy by Jim Marrs. Stone directed it. During the filming Dealey Plaza was completely restored to how it looked on November 22, 1963.
JFK won Academy Awards for Best Cinematography and Best Film Editing, and was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Tommy Lee Jones), Best Director, Best Music, Original Score, Best Sound, Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, and Best Picture.
Ironically, the real Jim Garrison, a severe critic of the Warren Commission, plays Supreme Court Chief Justice, Earl Warren in the film. Alleged assassination witness Beverly Oliver (aka Babushka lady) also appeared in a cameo, non-speaking role. Gerald Hemming (long suspected as having, at least, pre-assassination knowledge of the assassination), photographic expert and longtime JFK assassination researcher and author Robert Groden , and actual assassination witness Jean Hill were some of the many advisors for the film. One of the characters in the movie, "General X," (played by Sutherland) was loosely based on L. Fletcher Prouty's theories and actual military experience. (However, at the time of the assassination Prouty had no connection to Presidential security as is implied in the film). Prouty was a former Colonel in the Air Force and military liaison between the CIA and the Pentagon who wrote the 1975, (1992 republished) book The Secret Team: The CIA and Its Allies in Control of the United States and the World, was also used as an advisor for the movie.
Upon release, JFK earned mostly favorable reviews and was financially successful, earning over US$205 million during its initial movie run.
Controversy and inaccuracies
Even while JFK was still being filmed, the media generated considerable controversy when it speculated as to the film's accuracy and Stone's motives in making the film; JFK also encouraged general discussion about the Kennedy assassination. Some people accepted Stone's theories, at least in part, while others have argued Stone exceeded the limits of fictional license and was guilty of deliberate distortions, misrepresentations and falsehoods.
The general public's reactions, outcries, and contacting their representatives to the film led directly to the formation of the U.S. Assassination Records Review Board in 1992. The ARRB worked until 1998 interviewing witnesses (some of whom had never been interviewed before), the U.S. government purchasing the Zapruder film, and making assassination-related still classified documents that were still being withheld from public scrutiny available for the public (thousands of pages are still being withheld classified as of 2004). By ARRB law, all assassination related documents that have not been destroyed will be made public by 2017.
- JFK (motion picture): A Selective Bibliography of Materials in the UC Berkeley Library
- The JFK 100: One Hundred Errors of Fact and Judgment in Oliver Stone's JFK
- Jim Garrison: A Road To The Truth
- "JFK" concise overview
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