Parkland (2013) PG-13

One of the biggest weaknesses of this film is its title.  It doesn’t really tell you much about the subject.  That is a shame because people would miss out on an otherwise worthy movie.  This film tells the story of the JFK assassination through minor characters such as the hospital staff, Secret Service agents, Lee Harvey Oswald’s family, and Abraham Zapruder, the maker of the famous home movie of the tragedy. I found this to be a very interesting angle and their stories were well told.  I particularly liked the way that it showed how the events affected Zapruder.  I had never thought about that side of the story before.  The film is refreshingly free from conspiracy theory nonsense.  There are no references to second shooters or magic bullets and the like.  Its objectivity and realistic dialog really put Oliver Stone’s JFK to shame.  

There are some minor anachronisms in the film such as modernisms in speech that are used.  There are also some guns, telephone equipment and vehicles used that were from the wrong time period.  The film has some questionable story elements as well.  Lee Harvey Oswald is never shown protesting his innocence with the famous, “I am just a patsy” line and his mother is depicted as an absolute lunatic by saying Oswald worked for the US government.  The killer of Oswald is never identified and no motive is given for his murder.  Finally, I have never seen any evidence that Oswald’s surveillance file was destroyed by the Secret Service to cover up their failure to intercept the assassin in time.  Conspiracy theory advocates will no doubt rail against the movie for not supporting their pet theories, but that is not really what the movie is about.  Those people will never put this subject to rest anyway.  They have had plenty of other vehicles to put forward their claims.  Oddly, they rarely dwell on the two groups of people who most likely would have wanted revenge for recent American-sponsored assassination attempts on their leaders, the South Vietnamese and the Cubans.  Either one would have had a motive to kill Kennedy.  Most Americans want to move beyond that, however.  The film correctly chooses to focus on the emotional impact that the assassination had on people.

There is very little that is objectionable about this film.  There was a good deal of blood shown in the film, but the shooting and operating room sequences seemed realistic.  Some of the language used seems a bit too harsh for most people’s speech in those days, but it was possible, I suppose.  The film was completely free from sexual content.  Showing this film in a history class would be a useful exercise, particularly if it were shown in conjunction with a conspiracy theory movie or a documentary on the JFK assassination and a comparison of the different approaches became the topic of a class discussion.

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