On November 22, 1963 the world was changed forever when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. While theories about as to why he was shot and as to who was really behind it all, it's almost agreed upon conclusively that Lee Harvey Oswald was the man who pulled the trigger. Or at least, he pulled one of the triggers (if in fact there was more than one gunman involved in the hit). History buffs and conspiracy theorists the world have long been fascinated with the bizarre events surrounding the assassination, and no shortage of theories abound about this case.
In the feature length made for television documentary, The Kennedy Assassination – Conspiracy And Beyond, Peter Jennings narrates a fascinating look at recreating the actual events that happened that day using modern computer technology to animate the events in 3-D. Aided by this ability to virtually rotate the assassination so that it can be viewed from any angle, investigators have been able to add weight to the theory that Oswald did in fact act alone on that day.
Aside from recreating the events using computer technology, a lot of insight is given into Oswald's upbringing via interviews with his brother, as well as details on his visit to Russia and his ties with Cuban sympathy groups. The Jack Ruby angle is explored in quite a bit of detail as well as some much needed background information on him is supplied as well.
Jennings and crew seem to have all their facts in place and don't bother much with speculation. That's not to say that they solve the case without a shadow of a doubt once and for all – that will probably never happen and who knows if the government has actually declassified all of the documents surrounding this case or not. In fact, who knows if the government even has all the details surrounding the case in the first place – it's entirely possible that they don't. In all likelihood we'll honestly know all the details but this piece does a good job of bringing together all the facts and overlooking the speculation.
Moving along at a rapid pace, the film examines quite a few facets of the assassination that I wasn't familiar with before viewing. It does a nice job of comparing Oliver Stone's JFK with the real life events surrounding his film and in particular, the real life Jim Garrison, who doesn't appear to have been too accurately represented in that film if we believe what we're shown in this documentary.
Overall it's a nice, if maybe a little bit too 'safe', examination of the facts that we can deduce about what occurred that day in Dallas. It's fast paced, very interesting, and well worth your time.
Seeing as this was originally a made for TV documentary, it makes sense that the video is presented fullframe. Video quality is all over the place on this release because it uses a lot of stock footage and archival footage culled from old newscasts, documentaries, and the like. The newer footage is almost entirely 'talking head' shots and it looks clean and clear enough without and compression problems noticeable. Some of the old news footage is in pretty rough shape but that's hardly the fault of the documentary or of the transfer itself.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack is sufficient. It's free of any serious background hiss or distortion and while it's hardly going to rock your socks off with riveting sound effects and the like, this documentary is almost entirely dialogue based and it gets that across just fine.
This release is completely barebones, there's not a single extra feature on it.
Conspiracy theorists may be disappointed that the film more or less debunks most of the stories around the assassination but this documentary still makes for very interesting viewing. Recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.