DC at Night

DC at Night

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tuesday's Take - Oliver Stone Talks JFK, Conspiracy

This post originally appeared in The Lantern Lit

Stone makes a point with Newseum Vice Chairman Shelby Coffey III
When film director Oliver Stone speaks about his controversial film JFK, he wants it understood that he was not depicting absolute truth. Instead, he was making what he calls a countermyth to contrast with what he calls the myth of the Warren Commission Report, a voluminous compendium of information that maintains Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone when he killed President John F. Kennedy 50 years ago.

"We were not making a documentary, we were dramatizing," Stone says. "I thought the Warren Commission was fiction and I still do today."

Stone appeared at the Newseum in Washington, DC to discuss his film, which was released 22 years ago and is enjoying a resurgence because of the timeliness of the 50th anniversary this month of that dark day in Dallas.

"The (Kennedy) investigation was badly handled from the beginning," Stone said as he detailed his belief in both a conspiracy and a cover-up. "A major medical fraud took place. He should have been autopsied in Parkland (the Dallas hospital where Kennedy died). A doctor there says for 18 minutes he saw brains emerging from the back of President Kennedy's head. A shot from the front was the kill shot and that is a shot that Lee Harvey Oswald couldn't have made."

Of course, if the Warren Commission is wrong and Oswald didn't act alone, the question becomes - who is responsible for killing JFK?  "Look at the people who had the power," Stone contends.

In Stones' view, the military/industrial/intelligence complex was highly disturbed about Kennedy actions that they believed were wrong for an America which, at the time, was engaged in a Cold War with the Soviet Union and the idea of Communism.  "Kennedy was moving toward detente and the end of the Cold War. The generals wanted to blow up the Soviet Union because they could. They wanted a war because they knew they could win it. But Kennedy realized we were facing the end of the world as we knew it and he said no. They were furious and didn't want him to win re-election in 1964. Kennedy took them head-on and paid a price for it ," Stone said.

The director said he began to question the Oswald-only position after reading On The Trail of the Assassin by New Orleans attorney Jim Garrison in 1989. Garrison's book detailed his investigation of a Kennedy conspiracy. Kevin Costner portrayed Garrison in Stone's film.

Stone said he had always admired the 1969 film Z, by Greek director Costa-Gavras, a thinly fictionalized account of the events surrounding the assassination of a Greek politician and the outrage at the military dictatorship which hatched the killing plot. "I wanted to do something similar on an American level," Stone said. "I wanted to give a reason why he (Kennedy) must be removed from office."

"In drama, you have the right to interpret history as you want. Shakespeare proved that," Stone said. "Even documentaries aren't objective. But I think the facts of JFK hold up to me."

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