Fifty years. As I write this there are only a few more days until the fiftieth anniversary of those events in Dallas, many of which played out at the Parkland hospital, where the still-breathing body of John F. Kennedy was taken. Later, Lee Harvey Oswald would die in the room next door. This movie has no real plot, since we all know exactly what happened. There is no mystery to solve, because the writer-director, Peter Landesman, wisely eschews any of the 1001 conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination. It’s just a documentary-style re-enactment of four of the worst days this country has ever experienced.
Fifty years, and the re-creation of those images still has the power to bring me to tears, starting very early on as JFK and Jackie in her pink suit (in newsreel footage that is matched to the actions filmed later) step off the plane in Dallas, and doing it to me again and again and again. We see the desperate fight to save the president. Very bloody. We see Abraham Zapruder (Paul Giamatti) taking his famous film. We see the doctors and the nurses and the head of the Secret Service and how these events affect all of them. This is extremely powerful, strong stuff to anyone of my generation and older … and probably just a history lesson to the younger people. I suspect that in another forty years someone will make a film about 9/11 that will resonate with the younger generations as powerfully as this one did for me.