JFK (1991)

On 22 November 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. On 24 September 1964, the President's Commission on the Assassination was presented to Kennedy's successor, President Lyndon B. Johnson, presenting the results of the official Government investigation.

JFK follows New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) as he form his own alternative investigation, culminating in the trial of businessman Clay Shaw (Robert De Niro) on 29 January 1969 for conspiring to assassinate President Kennedy. This is, to date, the only trial to have been brought for the assassination of President Kennedy.

As political dramas go, JFK is aimed at the truly hardcore fans. With its three hour runtime, the first two hours of the film are spent delving into the background of Kennedy's death and setting up the plausibility of the "alternative" scenario. It is important to remember that this is, ultimately, a propaganda film and whether you believe the events or not, it differs from the official Government narrative.

For a newcomer to the events of 22 November 1963 - which I was - this extended setup is simultaneously extremely helpful and mentally exhausting, and it is difficult to keep both awake and aware, so approaching the film with some knowledge - even of the Government narrative - is beneficial.

However, the final act of the film is extremely compelling watching, featuring Costner delivering a famous soliloquy that undoubtedly helped to influence later courtroom dramas, such as A Few Good Men and Amistad, as they pitch one man against the Government.

While JFK was - rightly - nominated for a number of Oscars, including Best Picture and De Niro as Best Supporting Actor, and won Best Cinematography and Best Film Editing, it is difficult to feel that Costner was inexplicably overlooked as he singlehandedly carries the final act.

Extremely dry, but immensely compelling. You will question what you have just witnessed.

5 stars


  1. I think the greater point of “Do not forget your dying king” is that it seemed too easy to move on from a traumatic assassination of a president who deserved better. The death of the assassin, there was no real resolution. Whether you believe the case Garrison put together or other theories, that’s what it really boils down to. Even Jack Ruby just disappeared from the stage. That was all three main figures, dead. At least with John Wilkes Booth there was no question and even a satisfying conclusion. There was nothing like that here. So, again, that’s why that line, to me, is the key to the whole movie.

    1. Absolutely. The movie makes a compelling case against the government narrative. Whatever you believe though, remember JFK.


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