Plot: What’s it about?
Note: This is NOT the theatrical film. Don’t let the cover art fool you!
I’ve been somewhat intrigued by the JFK assassination for quite some time. Then again, everyone has. Oliver Stone’s Academy Award nominated 1991 film, JFK, did a lot to show the masses what the fuss was about. And, as a result of that movie, it sped up the process and got a lot of documents from the Warren Commission released. How’s that for life imitating art? However that film is now over three decades old – more time has passed since the release of that film than the events depicted within it. Is your mind blown? Sorry, that was in bad taste. At any rate, a lot of happened over the last few decades and most of the documents have been released. Some are even publicly-available in a Maryland library (as a resident of the state, maybe I should take a drive over and do my own research)? But the “big deal” about all of this is that two new specials have been released containing new interviews and newly declassified information surrounding one of the biggest conspiracies of this country’s history. Let’s dive in.
JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass
An official selection of the Cannes Film Festival, this feature-length film presents a fresh look at the vast archive of material that has recently been placed into public record. Thirty years after acclaimed director Oliver Stone’s first examination of JFK’s assassination, Stone reassesses the horrific event that shaped a generation. Using newly declassified and reexamined footage, Stone presents a compelling, thought-provoking documentary narrated by Whoopi Goldberg and Donald Sutherland.
JFK: Destiny Betrayed
Subjects covered in this mini-series include the early formation of President Kennedy‘s foreign policy worldview, his travels to Vietnam as a senator, his support of fledgling democracies in Africa, and his anti-colonial convictions which put him in opposition to the Eisenhower administration, the CIA, and the Pentagon. Viewers are also given a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the post-assassination actions and initial suspicions of Kennedy‘s brother, Robert, as well as his views on the official Warren Commission investigation. The assassination forensic and ballistic evidence not covered in JFK Revisited are explored here in greater detail.
With nearly six hours of new material, I soaked up every bit of what was on the screen. Moreover, I find it difficult that anyone with a brain could actually swallow what it was that our government was trying to sell. I mean, are we really supposed to believe the “magic bullet” theory? I think not. It was clearly a conspiracy and there were multiple shooters. We get insight into the Warren Commission and how influential CIA bigwig Alan Dulles was in the entire thing. And it’s not over yet, former President Donald Trump claimed that after meeting with the CIA, claimed the papers would put the identity of some of our spies in danger so we’re going to have to wait longer. We can add that to the list of things that he did wrong. Exactly how old are CIA agents? No matter what your stance on the JFK assassination, this is a well-made set of documentaries that sheds new light on an investigation that’s nearing 60 years.
Video: How’s it look?
The majority of both documentaries consists of new interviews and, as such, looks as we’d expect. The 1.78:1 AVC HD image showcases everything we might expect with razor sharp detail, good colors and lighting and the like. Granted, this isn’t something “cinematic”, so don’t expect to be blown away by amazing production design and such. It’s pretty straight-forward with the visual appearance. Obviously there are a good deal of archival photos and footage that looks dated and, well, bad (for lack of a better word). Still, I feel that the visual appearance of these is the least concerning thing. Now if only we could go back in time and see what the Zapruder film would look like in 4K. I don’t think we’d have any mystery then, right?
Audio: How’s it sound?
Documentaries are, by and large, not known for their audio. This is no exception. The included DTS HD Master Audio mix is about as bland as it comes, but it gets the job done and that’s all it needs to do. Vocals are crisp and clean, there’s no distortion and even some of the archival vocals don’t really sound that bad. I don’t think anyone will have an issue with the way this comes across. And if you’re trying to figure out who those celebrity narrators are, it’s Donald Sutherland (who played “Mr. X” in JFK) and Whoopi Goldberg.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Audio Commentary – Director Oliver Stone And Writer James DiEugenio provide a track on JFK: Through the Looking Glass. It’s a nice, solid track that’s sure to please though I’ve always been confused why some documentaries have commentaries. Isn’t anything they’d say already on the screen?
The Bottom Line
Nearly six decades later, the JFK assassination still manages to boggle our minds. We know what happened, it’s just a matter of how it’s proved. And, let’s face it, most who were involved are long dead anyway. Still, if you can’t get enough of this mystery, this set makes a perfect compliment to Oliver Stone’s 1991 film.