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Beaver, Frank Eugene. Oliver Stone: Wakeup Cinema. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1994.
Beaver immediately acknowledges that no film has ever sparked as much sustained media controversy as JFK and attributes the impressive box office sales to that controversy. Beaver then makes sure to quote Stone saying: "It's not the Jim Garrison story." Stone wanted to present all possible scenarios of what happened on November 22, 1963, and leave the audience members to create their own truth. Beaver also stresses Eisenstein's provocative editing of film to combat the common effect of "standard continuity." Beaver wants the audience to know the film's recurring criticisms are based solely on which aspect of JFK one is observing. For instance, no one can deny that it is a truly visionary piece of cinema, but most tend to dwell on the factual errors. Had Stone simply stated that his film was mostly fiction, he would have avoided the most hostile attack of his career.
Briley, Ron. "Teaching JFK (1991): Potential Dynamite in the Hands of Our Youth?" Film and History 28.1-2 (1998): 9-15.
Briley discusses the effectiveness of using JFK in aiding students' understanding of history, addressing the much publicized criticism of the film's historical inaccuracies along with the media's claims that the movie "brainwashes" today's youth. He provides evidence that corroborates this claim by providing the initial thoughts of college students after seeing the film. These students question authority and "identify with Jim Garrison's (Kevin Costner) challenge to the Establishment." After allowing this disclaimer, Briley asserts, however, that films such as JFK still have a place in the classroom. The film sparks discussion and questioning, which in turn engages students' critical thinking skills. Briley goes on to identify several possible projects that allow learners to dig deeper into historical understanding and become "student historians."
Burgoyne, Robert. "JFK, Fact, Fiction, and Supposition." History by Hollywood: The Use and Abuse of the American Past. Ed. Robert Brent Toplin. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1996. 45-78.
Burgoyne discusses the effects of artistic license on presenting historical events. He is quick to point out that Stone's work is successful in rousing suspicion as to the validity of the government's rendition of the assassination, while clearly stating that the film's general lack of historical accuracy hurts its overall reception. Burgoyne goes on to refute many of the film's critical points by providing counter-arguments by notable historians and government officials. While Burgoyne acknowledges that Stone's depiction of events raises doubt, the film does little to substantiate its assertions, inviting debate over the work's endeavor to aid in historical understanding. In support of his claims, Burgoyne maintains that by presenting himself as a cinematic historian, Stone elicits more criticism than he can counter: "He could have tried to sell his motion picture as a drama with an only tangential relationship to history, as a movie that begins with the fact of a murder and moves to bold speculation about the way a conspiracy could have taken place . . . the certainty expressed in his conclusions forced JFK into a public test for historical authenticity, and it is not surprising that the movie failed that examination miserably." Moreover, Burgoyne asserts that this misrepresentation greatly diminishes the recognition that what he calls an "innovative motion picture" truly deserves.
Burgoyne, Robert. "Modernism and the Narrative of the Nation in JFK." Film Nation: Hollywood Looks at U.S. History. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1997.
Two views shape the film, Benedict Anderson's theory that a nation acts as a single community "moving calendrically through homogeneous, empty time" and Hayden White's argument that the catastrophes of the era are best shown by "modernist antinarrative techniques" that go against the traditional way of storytelling. The film often uses temporality, the changing of time, through flashbacks, as well as the human manipulation of time, to make it "evoke division, rupture, and discontinuity between communities, between individuals and their actions, and between events and their causes" (90). White contends that modernist techniques for representing the past have a way of distorting the meaning of the past versus the true facts of the past. Thus, the facts can only shape the history of the twentieth century. Burgoyne looks at JFK in this sense as a film that is "an unstable discourse of fact and fiction, truth and illusion, that discloses only the scattered remains of contexts, motives, beliefs and regimes of credibility" (96).
Carnes, Mark C. "Past Imperfect: History According to the Movies." Cineaste 22.4 (Fall, 1996): 33-38.
In this interview, Carnes, a professor of history, asks Stone about the criticism he has faced from historians. Despite the hostility from his educated critics, Stone reveals that he does, in fact, care what these viewers think. According to Stone, the purpose of his films is not necessarily to reenact historical events with dramatic effect but to "raise questions." Stone also discusses his method of editing flashes of media footage into a scene in order to play with the audience's mind. Stone has not changed his mind about the suspicious sequence of assassinations (JFK, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King) and Nixon's impeachment or the falling of men who were trying to push the country to new levels. Stone also contends Schlesinger's argument that the film states LBJ, along with other high levels of government, conspired to kill the president. This interview with Stone is one of the most thorough and really provides his perspective on his films and their relation with history.
Collier, Peter. "Ollie uber Alles." American Spectator April 1992: 28-31.
JFK only pretends to be about the assassination of President Kennedy but, instead, is meant to portray America as a fascist state. Stone browbeats his audience with his theories of conspiracies and corrupt government initiatives: "JFK is the cinematic equivalent of rape." Collier spends a good portion of the article discussing the misrepresentation of both Jim Garrison and John Kennedy. Stone misrepresents Kennedy's feelings about the Cold War and Vietnam. Collier maintains that JFK is a representation of Stone's hatred for his country and a distortion of history.
Crowdus, Gary. "Clarifying the Conspiracy: An Interview with Oliver Stone." Cineaste 19.1 (1992): 25-27.
Stone defends himself against the charge that his film has 5,000 conspirators by stating that there are actually only two conspiracies in the film: "one is the conspiracy to kill Kennedy and the other is the conspiracy to cover it up." Stone candidly tells Crowdus that he doesn't have all the facts in Kennedy's murder and that the point of the JFK movie is to get the watchers of the film to consider his hypothesis of what may have happened, to move away from blindly believing the Warren Commission report, to read more about the Kennedy assassination on their own time, and then to make up their own mind about what really happened.
Crowdus, Gary. "Getting the Facts Straight: An Interview with Zachary Sklar." Cineaste 19.1 (1992): 28-32.
Sklar, co-author of the film, spent a year researching the case, along with writing a screenplay three times the normal size, and, even then, one-quarter of it was cut. Sklar discusses the mixture of fact and fiction, the role of the Mafia, JFK's position on Vietnam, and the portrayals of Garrison and the gays. Finally, Sklar urges Americans to do research, question why so much information is missing, and not accept what they are told. He also hopes history books will be revised to say that the fact that Oswald was the lone shooter is not accepted and go into more details of the controversy and conspiracy.
Crowdus, Gary. "History, Dramatic License, and Larger Historical Truths: An Interview with Oliver Stone." Cineaste 22.4 (1997): 38-42.
Crowdus offers this interview as a follow-up to Carnes' previous interview with Stone in order to give him a chance to address some of the questions raised by Carnes. His first question to Stone is: How do you define dramatic license? Stone replies that he believes dramatic license is a restaging of events that summarizes one's interpretation of what really happened. Stone then relates "dramatic license" to how major media exaggerates current events or how government uses scare tactics to influence the public perception of foreign countries. When asked about "larger historical truths," Stone says that in order to establish accuracy, he must omit the pattern that would imply some sort of judgment upon the character. Overall, Stone considers himself a dramatist before a historian but also suggests that there is a fine line between the two.
DiEugenio, Jim. "Oliver Stone vs. The Historical Establishment." Probe 7.5 (2000).
Immediately after the release of Stone's film, there was a media barrage, including cover stories in major magazines, which discredited both the accuracy and overall message of the movie. DiEugenio chronicles the media's reaction to the film as well as the debunking of the conspiracy theory. He also discusses the book written by Toplin and Kurtz and commends the authors for their perspectives on Stone and for providing a fair view of his film. DiEugenio continues to review various articles and essays based on criticisms of the movie. He concludes by combating Schlesinger's criticism that Stone's ideology has corrupted his dramatic license. Overall, DiEugenio supports Stone and his works and provides an extensive number of examples regarding those who reacted strongly to the film.
Dowell, Pat. "Last Year at Nuremberg: The Cinematic Strategies of JFK." Cineaste 19.1 (1992): 8-14.
Dowell refers to the film as powerful yet elusive, making note of the positive and negative attributes apparent in the film. One of the shining successes noted in the piece is the use of the classic cameo: "Stone makes cameo do quadruple duty." By using highly acclaimed actors to portray lesser roles in the film, Stone gives their involvement in the storyline a sense of credibility, making what they have to say carry some sort of importance. In contrast, the depiction of homosexuality, as well as Garrison's relationship with his wife, are blaring flaws in the plot line. Overall, Dowell praises Stone's ingenuity in employing camera angles, editing techniques, and historical interpretation, saying, "Every cut produces only one conviction, that the past we thought we shared is a mosaic of conflicting histories, a History just this side of Chaos."
Evica, George Michael. "Deconstructing the DA: The Garrison Image in JFK." Cineaste 19.1 (1992): 17-19.
Evica names Stone's portrayal of Jim Garrison as that of a "tragic hero." The piece depicts two strikingly different men, Jim Garrison the film character and Jim Garrison the man. Stone's Garrison is a direct inversion of the former New Orleans District Attorney, even going so far as to have the fictional character wear the eyeglasses that the man would never put on in public. Evica goes to great lengths to show how Stone deconstructs who he perceives to be an intelligent but inconsistent lawyer and turns him into a lovable character who makes viewers ask hard questions.
Fuller, Graham. "The Unstoppable Stone." Interview Jan. 1996.
Around the time of the release of Stone's film Nixon, Fuller begins the interview by asking him about JFK. Stone commends Garrison, stands by his film, and firmly believes that there was, in fact, a conspiracy to kill Kennedy. Furthermore, Stone has his suspicions about Kennedy's involvement in the assassination. He also argues that since JFK was released, Garrison's case has been destroyed because of Garrison's flawed argument and pompous attitude. When comparing the assassination and the Watergate scandal, Stone believes that the conspiracy still remains a mystery while Nixon's case is very much a closed one. Before the interview begins to focus mainly on Stone's new film, he tells Fuller that Nixon knew more about the Kennedy tragedy than he was letting on because he benefited from it. Three years after harsh press criticism, Stone remains steadfast in his beliefs and takes much pride in JFK.
Georgakas, Dan. "The 'Threat' of the New Frontier: The Kennedy Image in JFK." Cineaste 19.1 (1992): 19-20.
Georgakas acknowledges that much of Stone's depiction of the Kennedy assassination may be true. The author provides commentary that supports Stone's theory that Kennedy was assassinated because of his desire to end the Cold War and to remove troops from Vietnam. He also reinforces Stone's theory of government involvement in the assassination. Georgakas asserts that it is not Stone's theory that is flawed but instead his depiction of Kennedy as a wholesome family man. He contends that Stone chose to embrace the "Camelot myth" rather than address issues of mafia ties and adultery, further perpetuating the squeaky clean image of John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
Grundmann, Roy, and Cynthia Lucia. "Gays, Women and an Abstinent Hero: The Sexual Politics of JFK." Cineaste 19.1 (1992): 20-22.
While many other works have lightly touched upon the portrayal of the homosexual community, Grundmann and Lucia contend that JFK depicts its gay character as narcissistic, deviant, and depraved, further perpetuating the biased perceptions of a homophobic society. The authors allege that Stone draws an unfair parallel between his gay characters and his heterosexual ones, arguing that Garrison is seen as reflective of the wholesome image of John Kennedy, while the homosexual community are the perpetrators of his death. Grundmann and Lucia also discuss the character of Liz Garrison and her transformation midway through the movie from apathetic observer to honest believer after reconnecting with her husband both emotionally and physically. The writers see this as another example of heterosexual relationships taking precedence over homosexuality.
Kagan, Norman. The Cinema of Oliver Stone. New York: Continuum Publishing Company, 1995.
Kagan begins his Kagan begins his JFK chapter by describing what inspired the production of the film. Of course, Kagan also makes a point to dispel the major factual errors made by Stone. According to Stone, the film never actually stated what happened that day in Dallas but, rather, left the audience to decide who the assassin may have been. Unlike other articles, Kagan also describes the screenwriting and casting process, including the on-site filming and incredible attention to set detail. Throughout the chapter, Kagan quotes interviews with Stone's screenwriter and research assistant. Kagan then spends a good portion of the chapter summarizing the film's important scenes and quotes. There is also a comparison between in film techniques in JFK and two horror films directed by Stone. After quoting the film reviews of both Stone's major critics and advocates, Kagan mentions the harsh words of studio executives towards the film. This chapter is riddled with key quotes from important figures in the film industry and is one of the few to exhaustingly describe the filmmaking process. chapter by describing what inspired the production of the film. Of course, Kagan also makes a point to dispel the major factual errors made by Stone. According to Stone, the film never actually stated what happened that day in Dallas but, rather, left the audience to decide who the assassin may have been. Unlike other articles, Kagan also describes the screenwriting and casting process, including the on-site filming and incredible attention to set detail. Throughout the chapter, Kagan quotes interviews with Stone's screenwriter and research assistant. Kagan then spends a good portion of the chapter summarizing the film's important scenes and quotes. There is also a comparison between in film techniques in JFK and two horror films directed by Stone. After quoting the film reviews of both Stone's major critics and advocates, Kagan mentions the harsh words of studio executives towards the film. This chapter is riddled with key quotes from important figures in the film industry and is one of the few to exhaustingly describe the filmmaking process.
Karnow, Stanley. "JFK." Past Imperfect: History According to the Movies. Ed. Mark C. Carnes. New York: Holt, 1995.
Karnow addresses Stone's contention that Kennedy's assassination occurred in response to the president's plan to withdraw from Vietnam, asserting that Stone's vehement support of his theory only served to make him appear as a paranoid conspiracy theorist. Stone's idea that Kennedy's assassination was tied to Vietnam is an inaccurate portrayal of the facts. Karnow provides a great deal of evidence supporting the idea that Kennedy had every intention of moving forward with plans to enter Vietnam. He goes so far as to allege that if Kennedy had made his speech in Dallas as planned, his decision to stay in Vietnam would have been solidified. Karnow also addresses Stone's misrepresentation of Lyndon Johnson, claiming that Johnson had a tendency to tell people what they wanted to hear as opposed to Stone's contention that LBJ actively participated in a plot to overthrow Kennedy: "to depict Johnson as a warmonger, lifted the story out of context."
Kurtz, Michael. "Oliver Stone, JFK, and History." Oliver Stone's USA. Ed. Robert Brent Toplin. Lawrence: UP of Kansas, 2000. 166-77.
Kurtz begins the chapter by addressing the controversy generated by the film. Despite several interviews in which Stone considered himself separate from historians, Kurtz quotes him as a "cinematic historian," who claimed that JFK would replace the Warren Commission Report. After giving a brief synopsis of the film's critical scenes, Kurtz lists the criticism faced by Stone, most significantly his gross historical inaccuracy. However, Kurtz also manages to mention the pros of Stone's film, which Robert Ebert called "hypnotically watchable." Kurtz gives a summary of the major reviews and publicity surrounding the film after it was released. His concise yet dense overview provides almost every bit of essential information about the film.
Lambert, Patricia. False Witness: The Real Story of Jim Garrison's Investigation and Oliver Stone's Film JFK. New York: M. Evans and Company, Inc. 1998.
Lambert begins her book by recalling the actual events entailing Shaw's prosecution. She uses actual quotes and documented interviews to help portray the real story behind Shaw's trial. Perhaps the most significant differences between Stone's adaptation and Lambert's view are the portrayals of Shaw and Garrison. Stone clearly defines Garrison as the minimally flawed hero and Shaw as the despicable villain. Lambert, on the other hand, has evidence that claims Garrison was overly pompous and abusive towards his wife, while Shaw actually played an integral part in restoring the French Quarter and leading civil unions. Lambert's main goal is to credit Shaw's innocence but not necessarily discredit the assassination conspiracy. This work helps to cast Shaw in a completely different perspective.
Mailer, Norman. "Footfalls in the Crypt." Vanity Fair February 1992:124-30, 171.
Mailer begins commenting on the history of Stone's career as a filmmaker. In discussing each film, Mailer is quick to point out what it is that keeps Stone's works from being "great" movies. When addressing Stone's highly controversial JFK, however, Mailer states, "The first thing to be said about JFK is that it is a great movie, and the next is that it is one of the worst great movies ever made," going on to discuss what it is that makes the film "great" while also naming its many flaws. Stone's potential success with JFK is the result of daring to go where no other filmmaker would.
McCrisken,Trevor, and Andrew Pepper. "Oliver Stone and the Decade of Trauma." American History and Contemporary Hollywood Film. New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 2005. 131-59.
McCriskin and Pepper set out to determine Stone's filmic identity as he depicts American history from Kennedy to Nixon. The pair reference Stone's contention that he is not a historian, but rather a "historical dramatist" that "mixes fact and fiction to reveal larger truths about history." Moreover, they contend that Stone's works are designed to make his audience uncomfortable and question what they know, that Stone contests history to present an interpretation that goes against the grain. They also address the widely spread criticism that Stone's films have received. While many critics attack his lack of historical accuracy (JFK) and his representation of race and gender (Heaven on Earth), others argue that as a Vietnam veteran Stone's interpretations contain a greater "moral authority" than non-veterans. McCrisken and Pepper also maintain that although many critics spoke out against Stone's JFK, his theories warrant consideration. The writers go on to discuss Stone's idea that Kennedy was assassinated in an attempt to prevent a withdrawal from Vietnam. Making it clear that no real substantial evidence exists, Stone's intention is not necessarily to prove, as much as it is to get his audience to question what they consider to be fact.
Medhurst, Martin J. "The Rhetorical Structure of Oliver Stone's JFK." Critical Studies in Mass Communication 10.2 (1993): 128-43.
Medhurst contends that JFK is rhetoric -- discourse created to influence the opinions of others and sway them toward a viewpoint. He cites the results of this rhetoric, including its effect on government officials, particularly George Bush's 1992 "President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act." Medhurst also argues that the film's Garrison is a model for the audience, who are invited to follow in Garrison's footsteps and re-enact his search for the truth. Medhurst sees the film as using the Biblical story of Adam as a framework, creating a story of a hero fallen from grace. He closes by discussing how, through the film, we are invited to examine ourselves, recreate ourselves, through the film's lens.
Raskin, Marcus. "JFK and the Culture of Violence." American Historical Review 97.2 (1992): 486-99.
Despite previous articles that have bashed Stone's historical errors in JFK, Raskin's opening paragraph says that the film is "surprisingly accurate." Raskin sets out to prove the broader themes of the film as fact rather than an exhibit of Stone's dramatic license. He also presents the argument that JFK's assassination gave the American public the opportunity to question the "protection" provided by state security. According to Raskin, there is also a certain set of mechanics that surround an assassination: exhaustive planning, government involvement, killing ability, etc. The reason that Kennedy was killed was because he intended to pull all American troops out of Vietnam, which Raskin proves to be true. There was a surge of political budget activity, mostly military, that occurred immediately after the assassination. Raskin also presents several key players in the JFK administration who were not mentioned in previous articles. The conclusion is that conspiracies to kill government officials do exist and that they are aggravated by a violent culture. If the Warren Commission Report has taught us anything, it is that we should no longer continue to trust the explanations presented by national security, should we maintain a country that is governed by lies.
Riordan, James. Stone: The Controversies, Excesses, and Exploits of a Radical Filmmaker. New York: Hyperion, 1995.
Like many other articles, Riordan's JFK chapter begins by elaborating upon Stone's need to make the film. Riordan sheds a considerable amount of light on Stone's relationship with Garrison before and shortly after the film was made. Garrison's story was a classic example of the archetypal hero's tragedy, which is what initially drew Stone to the possibility of a conspiracy. Stone admits that he knew about Garrison's drinking and womanizing problems and claims that he simply did not have time to address it on screen. Stone's co-screenwriter Zachary Sklar emphatically denies ever distorting the historical facts of the film. The rest of the chapter describes the attacks on Stone during filming. Interviews with reputable actors, such as Tommy Lee Jones and Kevin Costner, give great first-person insight on what the set was actually like. The article ultimately states that Stone had exceeded both his own and Hollywood's expectations.
Rosenstone, Robert A. "Film Maker/Historian." History on Film/Film on History. Harlow: Pearson/Longman, 2006. 111-33.
Though he quotes Stone as saying: "I do not think of myself as a cinematic historian now or ever," Rosenstone meticulously argues that Stone is indeed a historian, utilizing film as his medium of choice. Rosenstone develops his case by first setting forth three ways that "cinematic historians" make the past meaningful: by creating works that "vision, contest and revision history." He proves that Stone's works meet this criterion by pointing to JFK (as well as his other famous films Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July), in which he contends that Stone revives historical issues while also provocatively questioning the legitimacy and reliability of that history. The author confronts Stone's inconspicuous mixture of historical fact, near fact, and fabrication throughout his films, claiming that his inclusion of falsified facts are acceptable since history itself is subject to interpretation. Thus, Stone's "invented evidence" in JFK, while controversial, cannot be written off as a historical infraction; instead, the author contends that it is to be considered a historical revision, a mere expansion of the boundaries. In this day and age with a culture as visually oriented as ours, Rosenstone concludes that the validity of facts may be less important in the scheme of things than the metaphors we create to make sense of history. Ultimately, therefore, the author proposes that Stone is a unique type of historian, one who makes history by "making myths in order to tell truths."
Rosenstone, Robert A. "JFK: Historical Fact / Historical Film." The Films of Oliver Stone. Ed. Don Kunz. Lanham: Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1997.
Rosenstone takes a stance against Oliver Stone's critics by describing JFK as a perfect example of a "historical film" in which factual errors and exaggerated truths are accepted and seen to help set the emotional tone and capture the viewer throughout the film. He argues that even a historical film must contain a certain element of fiction, that invention occurs for "the requirements of dramatic structure and the need of the camera to fill out the specifics of historical senses." Without Stone taking certain liberties with facts and using several eyewitness testimonies to create a single character for his film, JFK would seem drier, and the audience would have a harder time generating a feeling of empathy for the characters and their situation. Overall, Rosenstone argues, the purpose of JFK was not exactly to reiterate Garrison's exact case against the government and lead us to believe that his entire conspiracy was true but to make us question, to throw away our sense of complacency with everything the government tells us, so that we are no longer like a herd of sheep doing and believing everything we are told.
Salewicz, Chris. Oliver Stone: Close Up. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 1998.
Salewicz's chronology of Stone's works has a chapter dedicated to JFK. He begins by briefly mentioning Stone's praise from some respectable sources. According to his interviews in major magazines, Stone writes about his life, and the assassination was an important turning point to him. In an interview with Stone, he is quoted as denying the accusations of being a "conspiracy theorist." Stone firmly believes the one simply cannot deny the odd occurrences of that day. The chapter also recalls Stone's conversations with Garrison and Colonel Pouty, or "X" in the film. Salewicz also describes the problems faced by Stone on the set, such as a newspaper correspondent with CIA connections. Salewicz overall commends Stone's film, but neither confirms nor denies the conspiracy theory. The chapter presents a balanced view of the controversy following the film.
Sharrett, Christopher. "Conspiracy Theory and Political Murder in America: Oliver Stone's JFK and the Facts of the Matter." The New American Cinema. Ed. Jon Lewis. Durham: Duke UP, 1998.
Sharrett, in his opening statement, calls JFK the "fascinating product of a paranoid malcontent." According to him, Stone's major faux-pas was rejecting the publicly accepted version of the truth in favor of Jim Garrison's. This article criticizes the way in which Garrison approached the conspiracy, stating that his questioning of the authenticity of government led to more public disbelief than the theory itself. Like many other authors, Sharrett analyzes specific scenes within the film and compares them to what happened in reality, especially the meeting between Garrison and X in Washington, D.C. Garrison's pomposity, however, was not exaggerated; he engaged in several unnecessary political motions, making his case seem less credible and more convoluted at times. Although Sharrett may seem to be bashing Stone's methods and historical inaccuracies, he is overall applauding the filmmaker for presenting another side of the story, allowing the viewer to decide which side to believe. Overall, Sharrett believes that a popular film which raises questions cannot replace an alternate and honest government.
Simon, Art. "The Making of Alert Viewers: The Mixing of Fact and Fiction in JFK." Cineaste 19.1 (1992): 14-15.
Simon attempts to disprove Newsweek's claim that Stone's blending of fact and fiction in JFK confuses its viewers into believing what is not real. Simon's goal here is not to support Stone's film but rather to show that combining documentary footage with scripted scenes is one of the "redeeming elements" of the piece. Simon asserts that Stone is not doing anything different that any one else that has investigated the assassination, as even the Warren Commission conducted its own reenactment of the event at Dealey Plaza. Simon does claim that some scenes -- mainly those depicting the meeting of Oswald and Ferrie -- for which there is no photographic evidence stand to support Stone's belief of a conspiracy. Still, Simon maintains that coupling archival footage and filmed scenes is far from dangerous to historical accuracy but is instead a necessary evil in developing a plausible argument for conspiracy.
Simon, Art. Dangerous Knowledge: The JFK Assassination in Art and Film. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1996.
Simon's goal is to analyze the process between the production and interpretation of the story behind the assassination. He uses several examples in pop culture in order to describe the origin and contemporary portrayal of this specific genre. There is also a section dedicated to the Zapruder film and its relation to pop artists like Andy Warhol. A rather large section of the book focuses on several popular motion pictures. Simon also mentions Bruce Connor's documentary as the inspiration for his own book, after breaking down his use of Zapruder-like footage. This work could easily be found fascinating to anyone interested by the conspiracy theory and how it influenced the media. However, Simon does not quite achieve his goal of giving a complete contextual past of the film's cultural studies.
Smith, Sam. "Why They Hate Oliver Stone." Progressive Review. Feb. 1992.
Smith addresses the harsh criticism that Stone has received from his critics, some of whom have compared him to Hitler. Smith's argument is that not a single one of the critics actually attempts to explain what really happened on that day. Smith also makes an effort to combat the accusations of treason and libel made against Stone. Smith suggests that Stone did nothing wrong by challenging the myths created by the media, who give broad unbiased interpretations of historical events. It is unclear whether or not Smith agrees with Stone's perspective, but he clearly applauds him for bringing such a taboo subject into the public eye. Smith concludes by stating that we must confront our pasts on order to move forward.
Stone, Oliver, and Zachary Sklar> JFK: The Book of the Film: The Documented Screenplay. New York: Applause Books, 1992.
Screenplay with notes to Stone's sources plus a large collection of materials by Stone and journalists on the debate over the film in the popular media.
Stone, Oliver. "A Filmmaker's Credo: Some Thoughts on Politics, History, and the Movies." The Humanist 56.5 (1996): 3-6.
Adapted from his 1996 acceptance speech for the Humanist Arts Award of the American Humanist Association, Stone takes readers on a journey to understanding the writer's desire to present his viewer with historical films that evoke a desire to question. Stone explains that most Americans are not familiar with the history of their own country, claiming "That's why so many people seem to be threatened by the movies I make. Yet a good movie is merely a good first draft; it's something you use to get into a subject, to begin to learn about." Stone uses this idea to combat his critics, asserting that his coupling of history and fiction does not detract from the historical significance of his films but, instead, strengthens it as it leads people to dissent -- to question what Stone believes the corporate controlled media depicts. This piece offers a provocative look into the experiences that aided in establishing Stone's desire to break with convention and conformity to create works that inspire and provoke the need to know more.
Stone, Oliver. "Oliver Stone Talks Back." Premiere January 1992: 67-72.
Stone openly expresses his frustration with both the government and the media for failing to exhaust every possible avenue for inquiry involving the assassination of John Kennedy and begins to lay out his own frame work for researching the events of November 22, 1963, along with the aftermath. Stone discusses his depiction of characters and spends time examining Kennedy's stance on Vietnam, making sure to leave no assertion unsubstantiated. Overall, Stone refers to his film as a "cultural myth" meant to dispel America's "dirty little secret" and get at a broader truth.
Stone, Oliver. "Who Defines History?" Cineaste 19.1 (1992): 23-24.
In his address to the National Press Club, Oliver Stone reveals some crucial historical evidence that he uses to combat his critics. He is primarily concerned with inaccuracies regarding Lee Harvey Oswald, particularly his military record. He fails to see how his critics can miss the fact that Oswald was almost certainly an operative working with the Intelligence community of the United States Military. It is thought-provoking and well-written, providing readers with further insight into the mind of Oliver Stone. He is not ashamed to voice his opinion and let everyone know that he wears his politics on his sleeve. This speech sums up Stone's response to his critics and defense of his work and is probably the best single example of Stone's defense of his work.
Toplin, Robert Brent. Reel History: In Defense of Hollywood. Lawrence: UP of Kansas, 2002.
In his introduction, Toplin clearly states that his goal is to challenge "the familiar negative assessments" and present a more widely acceptable view of historical films. Toplin stresses that the audience should not focus on the details surrounding the assassination of JFK but rather that it was brave enough to question the truth. He also mentions that JFK breaks the mold of a historical narrative by employing a fast-paced splicing method. According to Toplin, there are two issues that need to be addressed by historical filmmakers: experimental narratives and a structured, documented past. Toplin then concludes by raising an interesting point that if historians insist on continuing to be completely subjective, then there can be no universal truths, since they are all contested in some way. It is rare to find someone who can reasonably defend Stone's factual errors in JFK, and Toplin logically excuses the director's revolutionary use of dramatic license.
Vogel, Amos. "JFK: The Question of Propaganda." Antioch Review 50.3 (1992): 578-85.
Vogel begins his article by stating that Stone's film generated more questions than it had intended, which seems unlikely. He mentions that Stone utilizes some of the most sophisticated directorial tools to their fullest. Vogel is more concerned with the aesthetics of the film, constantly analyzing Stone's rapid cuts, concluding that "this film is forever in motion" (580). The author then makes a rather bold assumption by comparing Stone's editing to that of MTV: a seamless blending of advertisements, programs, and videos. It is in this sense that JFK can be considered propaganda. The film does not allow the viewer to question what he or she has just seen and presents the audience with re-enacted scenes depicting events that never happened, although the film would have them believe that they did. Vogel says that Stone's most obviously flaw is that he portrays the film not as Garrison's point of view but as the truth about JFK. JFK is a prime example of the influential power that a film can have over public opinion.
Welsh, Jim. "JFK: Why Were We in Vietnam?" Literature/Film Quarterly 20.3 (1992): 263-66.
The film centers on the conspiracy theories, particularly on the "magic bullet theory." Movie critics, politicians, and those involved in 1963 tried discrediting Stone several weeks before the film was released. The film reminded people of the youthful John Kennedy, his stand against Cuba and Vietnam, and the promise and hope Kennedy gave the nation. After the assassination, the film shows that the Warren Commission and Lyndon B. Johnson wished to move the country away from the Kennedy assassination to the war brewing. Many critics of the film did not like Stone following Jim Garrison's version of events and altering history by including the "mysterious "Mr. X.'" Nevertheless, Stone's JFK became a media sensation and a powerful film of 1991.

See Also

Ansen, David. "What Does Oliver Stone Owe History?" Newsweek 23 December 1991.

Auster, Albert. "The Bacchae, the 'Missing Prince,' and Oliver Stone's Presidential Films." Journal of Popular Film and Television 28.1 (2000): 30-35.

Burgoyne, Robert. "The Metahistorical Film: JFK." The Hollywood Historical Film. Malden: Blackwell Pub., 2008.

Gunzenhäuser, Randi. "'All Plots Lead toward Death': Memory, History, and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy." Amerikastudien/American Studies 43.1 (1998): 75-91.

Hellmann, John. The Kennedy Obsession: The American Myth of JFK. New York: Columbia UP, 1997.

Keller, James R. "Oliver Stone's JFK and the 'Circulation of Social Energy' and the 'Textuality of History'." Journal of Popular Film and Television 21.2 (1993): 73-78.

Lipkin, Steve. "Defining Docudrama: In The Name of the Father, Schindler's List, and JFK." Why Docudrama? Fact-Fiction on Film and TV. Ed. Alan Rosenthal. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1999.

Reynolds, Michael Lewis. "Suspicious Narrative: The Assassination of JFK and American Ways of Not-Knowing." Diss: U of Southern California, 2001.

Rogin, Michael. "Body and Soul Murder: JFK." Media Spectacles. New York, Routledge, 1993.

Rollins, Peter C. The Columbia Companion to American History on Film: How the Movies Have Portrayed the American Past. New York: Columbia UP, 2003.

Rommel-Ruiz, W. Bryan. American History Goes to the Movies: Hollywood and the American Experience. New York: Routledge, 2011.

Staiger, Anet. "Cinematic Shots: The Narration of Violence." The Persistence of History: Cinema, Television, and the Modern Event. Ed. Vivian Sobchack. New York: Routledge, 1996.

Stone, Oliver. "On Nixon and JFK." Oliver Stone's USA. Ed. Robert Brent Toplin. Lawrence: UP of Kansas, 2000. 249-98.

Stone, Oliver. "The JFK Assassination -- What About the Evidence?" [Letter to the Editor] Washington Post 24 December 1991: A13. Reply to: Ford, Gerald, and David W. Belin. "Kennedy Assassination: How About the Truth?" Washington Post 17 December 1991: A21.

Stone, Oliver. "Turn to Stone." [Letter to the Editor] New York Magazine 9 March 1992. Reply to: Belin, David W. "The Big 'Lies' of 'JFK.'" New York Magazine 17 February 1992: 44.

Stone, Oliver. "Warren Panel Findings Should Stir Outrage." [Letter to the Editor] New York Times 3 February 1992: A23. Reply to: Lewis, Anthony. "JFK." New York Times 9 January 1992: A23.

Stone, Oliver. "Who Is Rewriting History?" New York Times 20 December 1991: H4. Reply to: Wicker, Tom. "Does JFK Conspire Against Reason?" New York Times 15 December 1991: H1.

Stone, Oliver. "JFK Is Not Irresponsible." Los Angeles Times 6 January 1992. Reply to Mosk.

Stone, Oliver. "Stone's 'JFK': A Higher Truth? The Post, George Lardner and My Version of the JFK Assassination." Washington Post 2 June 1991: D3. Reply to: Lardner, George, Jr. "On the Set: Dallas in Wonderland." Washington Post 19 May 1991: D1.

Stone, Oliver. "Via the Director's Viewfinder." [Letter to the Editor] New York Times 22 December 1991: H4. Reply to: Wicker, Tom. "Does JFK Conspire Against Reason?" New York Times 15 December 1991: H1.

Toplin, Robert Brent. "On Nixon and JFK." Oliver Stone's USA: Film, History, and Controversy. Lawrence: UP of Kansas. Publication: 2000.

Von Bothmer, Bernard. "Oliver Stone's JFK: Political Assassination, Kennedy, and Vietnam." War, Literature, and the Arts: An International Journal of the Humanities 17.1-2 (2005): 242-51.

Video/Audio Resources

Jim Garrison`s (Kevin Costner) final speech
One of the longest speeches in film history!
Oliver Stone, Inside Out. New York: The Cinema Guild; distributed by West Glen Films, 1992.
"Interviews with Oliver Stone and with his mother Jacqueline as well as his friends and associates Eric Bogosian, Jyra Sedgwick, Sergio Premoli, Michael Douglas, Larry Robinson, Stanley Weiser, Martin Scorsese, Edward Pressman, Migual Lima, Charlie Sheen, Sean Young, Robert Richardson, A. Kitman Ho, Ron Kovic, Janet Maslin, Spike lee, and Kevin Costner. The program intersperses interviews, still photos and home movies of Stone's earlier years and scenes from his major motion pictures to show how Stone's fascination and personal involvement in the major events of the 1960s (including combat experience in Vietnam, experimentation with drugs, rock music and political activism) provided the passion and material for his films."

Online Resources

JFK Script -- Dialogue Transcript
Dialogue but without speakers or times indicated. Still very helpful, of course.
JFK: Oliver Stone's JFK. Dave Reitzes.
Incredibly rich site. Links to an enormous variety of useful information on both the assassination and the film.
Laville, Helen. "What Kind of Man Are You?: Masculinity in Oliver Stone's JFK." 49th Parallel: An Interdisciplinary Journal of North American Studies 5 (Spring 2000).
This article is a character analysis of Jim Garrison's heterosexual masculinity. Laville restates that JFK is one of the most homophobic films ever made, depicting homosexuals as a group that conspired to kill the president, to which Stone retorts that the highest authorities involved in the assassination were all heterosexual. However, military officers and politicians are seen as shadowy, hidden figures, while Clay Shaw and company are shown coated in gold body-paint, having lavish gay orgies. Stone chose to exemplify every aspect of Garrison that made him masculine (military service, patriotism, diligence, etc.) while dismissing all of his flaws. Laville also makes a sharp observation that, in the film, Garrison decides to not call upon the testimonies of his best witnesses, because they are female and might be hunted after the trial. This act of chivalry is just another contribution to Garrison's sterling masculine reputation. Stone's idea of what makes a man becomes very apparent in his film, making JFK an important piece of gender role ideology as well as historical cinema.
Reitzes, David. "The JFK 100: One Hundred Errors of Fact and Judgment in Oliver Stone's JFK."
Reitzes begins his webpage by disclaiming that regardless of one's opinion towards the conspiracy theory, the accuracy of Stone's film must be closely analyzed. "The JFK 100" lists, in sequence, "one hundred of the most egregious errors" in the film. Reitzes takes integral scenes within the film and compares them to the actual events that occurred. Each "mistake" lists what happened in the film and how Stone interpreted the key players. Then, Reitzes uses biographical documentation and footnotes to disprove each allegation made by Stone's movie. Reitzes is mostly opposed to Garrison's claims against Shaw and his "associates." Almost every negative portrayal of a character in the film is refuted by Reitzes, who seems to believe that Garrison's story is almost entirely fabricated. He seems most offended by the fact that Stone saw JFK as a threat.
Wood, Robin (updated by R. Barton Palmer). "Oliver Stone." Film Reference.
Facts and brief analysis of Stone's career.