Just been watching…(84)

Parkland (2013)

I was eleven years old when John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, in 1963. Since then, countless books have been written about it, and many documentaries and films have been produced about the events too. The Warren Commission Report might well be regarded as the greatest fiction to have been written about the murder, and Oliver Stone’s film ‘JFK’ (1991) divided critics, audiences, and historians with its depiction of his version of what happened.

So for someone of my age, ‘Parkland’ might just have been another rehash of something I have read about or watched before I was even a teenager.
But it isn’t.

Parkland Memorial Hospital was the place where the president was taken to after being shot. The place where doctors and nurses in the emergency room attempted to save the life of a man already well-past saving. Not long after, his alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was shot whilst in police custody, and he was also taken to that same hospital; to that same room, where he was attended to by many of the same doctors and nurses who had tried to help President Kennedy. The film views those tragic events from a very different angle. Not only the hospital staff working under unprecedented pressure, but also the secret service agents, FBI officers, and local police who battled out their rivalries over the shattered bodies on operating tables.

Weaving everything together based around the man who shot the famous 8 mm cine camera footage, Abraham Zapruder, the story is seen to begin from his perspective, as he is shocked to see the event unfold through his camera viewfinder. Once the ensuing chaos consumes the law enforcement agencies, a distraught Jackie, and a solemn Lyndon Johnson, we get some of the back story to an incident that shook the world at the time. Lee Oswald’s brother, appalled that his sibling could have done this, and their mother, hoping to become famous, and to cash in, as a result. The overwhelmed Secret Service agents, and the FBI officers who had been tracking Oswald, and realise they could have stopped it all happening.

I really liked this film. It is intelligent, well-constructed, and manages to show a new perspective on something we might have all thought we already knew about. The casting is restrained, with superb performances from Paul Giamatti as Zapruder, Billy Bob Thornton as the head Secret Service agent, and Marcia Gay Harden outstanding as the professional head nurse involved in both the emergency room scenes. Zac Efron impresses as the tired but dedicated young doctor, and Ron Livingston is convincing as the FBI man hiding the secret of his own mistakes. I recommend it highly to anyone still interested enough in what happened that day. But don’t expect it to reveal any truths.

47 thoughts on “Just been watching…(84)

  1. This one completely passed me by. It sounds interesting, and from a professional angle, I would like to see how people involved saw what happened. I’ll try to see if I can get hold of it.
    All the best, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I will look for this, Pete. I wasn’t born when Kennedy was assassinated but my mother was 22 years old then. She nor any of my family–both sides- had a doubt that there was a conspiracy, no matter their education level, social status or political affiliation–and my family ran the gamut. Consequently, none of my friends had any doubts either. It was viewed as, a conspiracy? Duh. But now my daughters generation are taught that it was a lone shooter, a.k.a., Lee Harvey Oswald. It is in the history books. My youngest daughter was taught that in college. It’s chilling.
    My oldest had a history teacher in high school who laid it on the line. She told them…”This is part of the conspiracy. I’m supposed to teach you that it was a lone shooter, but I won’t do it. Don’t you ever believe that.”
    The youngsters are programmed to believe that we (my generation and older) are a bunch of old fools who just can’t believe a looser like Oswald could take down the great JFK.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for your thoughts on the assassination, Pam. I am always happy to hear that there are many others who refuse to eat what they are fed. As for the film, it is well-worth seeing, and delivers some powerful performances into the bargain.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pretty good film. The scenes in the operating room where the doctor won’t give up trying to save the President, even though it is evident that he is now long dead, is very moving. I also liked how it captured how stunned and horrified everyone was.

    I doubt that we will ever know the truth about the assassination. Something very weird about the whole thing though. I think he was certainly shot from behind for the neck shot(wasn’t that the bit where the bullet came out of him and hit Governor Connally sitting in front of him?), but something isn’t right about that fatal head shot at all.

    In the Zapruder film you can clearly see the front of Kennedy’s head rip open, his head and body jerk backwards and then he falls sideways in the direction of Jackie sitting next to him, surely that shot and his body reaction could only have happened if the bullet was fired from a position in front of the approaching car?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. The assassination of JFK happened two years before I was born, but I grew up hearing about it especially since my dad was convinced that either Oswald was set up as a patsy, or he didnโ€™t act alone. I know much of his scepticism stemmed from the bullets trajectory. Iโ€™ve always been fascinated by the mystery behind it and I still havenโ€™t given up hope that someday the truth will come out. This sounds like a great movie, even if it doesnโ€™t reveal anything new. Have you read Stephen Kingโ€™s time traveling take on the subject, โ€œ11/22/63โ€? I think itโ€™s one of his best books.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’ve heard of the film, but haven’t seen it. I was nine years old when it happened. I remember being called in from the playground with the other kids, and the teacher crying. She told us what had happened. The entire school was soon herded outside, and the American flag lowered. After school, I watched the reports on TV. I’m no fan of President Kennedy, but, of course, he did show strength and resolve, if not moral character.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The nearly identical thing occurred with me as well. I was 12 years old, lined up to re-enter the school from recess time in the playground.,, a crying teacher was briskly running down the stairway toward us heading into the school office telling another teacher that “The President was just shot!” Amazing what we still remember.. like our parents who recall where they were when they heard about Pearl Harbor, or us and our own kids on 9/11.
      But your last sentence was spot on. I was no real fan of Kennedy politics myself, or even now beyond the normal respect for his martyrdom. But he did show strength, resolve, certainly a measure of outward moral character (even though the immoral stuff was kept hidden in those days), all things missing these days from our current Buffoon-in-Chief.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I was in high school when he was killed and have had just about enough of the assassination…..every film director has a take on it…..a great man but who knows if we would feel the same if he got 4 or 8 years? chuq

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think it is possible to shoot someone from behind, with that injury taking out the back of the head, rather than the front. Something about that assassination isn’t right. In fact lots of things about it are not right at all.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

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