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Reviews » Theatrical Reviews » Oswald's Ghost
Oswald's Ghost
Other // R // November 30, 2007
Review by Brian Orndorf | posted November 30, 2007 | E-mail the Author
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The assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 was a tragedy that forever scarred American history. It's also a case that was never solved, with an exhaustive history of potential conspiracies and laborious discussion trailing behind it. "Oswald's Ghost" isn't a direct dissection of the assassination, instead stepping back and investigating the breadth of information that surfaced after this dynamic event and how it shaped the volatile years ahead for the wounded country.

The "Ghost" of the title refers to the legacy of Lee Harvey Oswald, a bewildering young man who, as popular history reflects, took to the Texas School Book Depository and fired bullets into the President as his motorcade was passing through Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963. Assassinated himself two days later, Oswald was forever silenced, thus kicking open the door to countless theories and speculative media endeavors. In the years following the event, American culture was riddled with books, articles, and television reports essentially asking the same question: who really killed Kennedy?

Filmmaker Robert Stone doesn't have the answer, but his curiosity about Oswald and the entire assassination experience has been shaped into this fascinating documentary. With interview help from the likes of Dan Rather, the late Norman Mailer, and various authors and experts, Stone assembles an overview of the shooting, briefly going over the facts of the day without plunging into the thick minutiae of the moment.

While an effective recollection of Kennedy's final seconds, "Ghost" is more concerned with the aftermath, and how it splintered into a thousand different directions of interpretation and questionable taste. Gathering an evocative collection of photographs and eye-opening news footage (ranging from the iconic to the obscure), "Ghost" discusses the history of the Zapruder film, the fallout from the Warren Report, the legal wild goose chase spearheaded by Jim Garrison, and the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy, which gave birth to a particularly nasty strain of social unrest.

Stone has produced a restless documentary that's insistent assembling a portrait of paranoia and despondency. A time when America bled a great deal of innocence and began to view the powers that be with tremendous skepticism; the assassination empowering hundreds to authors books about the event, questioning the integrity of the government and investigative endeavors more directly than anyone dared venture before.

"Ghost" doesn't offer a definitive answer on the assassination. In fact, after spending much of the picture pointing all arrows and underlines toward mass conspiracy, Stone flips the script and concludes his documentary with a moving monologue by Mailer that seeks to understand Oswald's motivations for murder. It's a persuasive argument, perhaps even stunning the most die-hard conspiracy theorist as it speaks about an argument few even entertain these days: simplicity. "Oswald's Ghost" isn't looking to close the book on the Kennedy assassination, only to reintroduce cycles of political thinking and views of social unrest that continue to this day. It's a documentary made up of familiar parts, but taken as a whole, it's a commendable document of mystery that will never find closure.


For further online adventure, please visit brianorndorf.com
Buy tickets to "Oswald's Ghost" now!

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