JFK is a 1991 American political thriller film directed by Oliver Stone. It examines the events leading to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and alleged subsequent cover-up through the eyes of former New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner).
Garrison filed charges against New Orleans businessman Clay Shaw (Tommy Lee Jones) for his alleged participation in a conspiracy to assassinate the President, for which Lee Harvey Oswald (Gary Oldman) was found responsible by two government investigations: the Warren Commission, and the House Select Committee on Assassinations (which concluded that there was another assassin shooting with Oswald).
The film was adapted by 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 described this account as a “counter-myth” to the Warren Commission’s “fictional myth”.
The film became embroiled in controversy largely because it depicts one of the most important periods in American history. Upon JFK’s theatrical release, many major American newspapers ran editorials accusing Stone of taking liberties with historical facts, including the film’s implication that President Lyndon B. Johnson was part of a coup d’état to kill Kennedy.
After a slow start at the box office, the film gradually picked up momentum, earning over $205 million in worldwide gross. JFK was nominated for eight Academy Awards (including Best Picture) and won two, Best Cinematography and Best Film Editing.
Stone’s “JFK” is a monstrous epic that revolves around the whole mystery around President Kennedy’s assassination. While it is a dramatic picture and Stone most likely twisted a few things to make this a more relevant and better movie, it is still an undeniable powerhouse that has you go through a whole set of emotions, ranging from fear, anger, paranoia and sadness. There’s no question that the majority of the country believes that there is more to the assassination than we were lead to believe. I don’t think it’s exactly how it is in the movie, but that’s not important. What is important is that the film works for many reasons.
President Kennedy has been assassinated. Lee Harvey Oswald is the suspect and gets shot shortly after. There is a secretive and brief hearing on the whole assassination, and it is in stone that Oswald was a lone gunman and nobody else was involved. Seems like an open-and-shut-case, but District Attorney Jim Garrison isn’t willing to buy it. With his staff, they decide to work on the case, until they are shut down by the government. Three years later, Garrison isn’t willing to stand by in silence anymore and decides to go ahead with the case. The further he digs, the more horrible truths he uncovers. Not only that, but people high up in the ranks are willing to do anything to make sure that the American Public will never find out about them.
Director: Oliver Stone
Year of Release: 1991
Character to watch: Kevin Costner as Jim Garrison.
Journal your answers to the following questions after you watch the movie.
- How does this particular character’s journey compare with yours?
- Did the character develop certain characteristics during the movie that you have or that you would like to have? If so, what are those characteristics?
- What obstacles did this character face? What was his or her biggest challenge?
- What would you have done differently if you had been in the same position as the character?
- Is this character the type of person you would be friends with? Why or why not?