JFK Assassination: Docudrama 'Parkland' Shot From ER Perspective

Friday, 04 Oct 2013 04:19 PM

By Ken Mandel

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Nearly 50 years after the assassination of JFK, the situations surrounding his traumatic death remain one of the most studied events in American history.

The new movie "Parkland" brings the somber day of Nov. 22, 1963, to the Dallas hospital where Kennedy took his final breaths. Most of the film is shot as an emergency-room docudrama, as actors Zac Efron, Marcia Gay Harden, and Colin Hanks play key roles in trying to save the president's life.

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In the ensuing days, when Kennedy's alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald is also shot, the doctors must go to work again.

The movie, which opened in limited release on Friday, also stars Paul Giamatti as Abraham Zapruder, the man whose 8 millimeter home movie of Kennedy being shot has become one the most studied pieces of footage in history.

"He's this kind of inadvertent witness of the whole thing that I think he felt guilty about filming this thing, witnessing it the way he did," Giamatti told reporters recently at the Toronto Film Festival, according to The Associated Press. "He felt shame and guilt and things like that. You weren't supposed to see this and he made everybody see it."

Zapruder's film is brought to light through the Secret Service investigation, which is shown in the movie, as they rush around the city to find someone to process the Dealey Plaza footage.

Billy Bob Thornton, James Badge Dale, and Ron Livingston are also featured in "Parkland."

The movie, which runs an hour and 33 minutes, has received lukewarm reviews.

"Awkward, incoherent and plodding, 'Parkland' doubles back on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy with the aim of presenting that awful event through the eyes of ancillary players whose lives it touched — and, in some cases, wrecked," wrote NPR's Ella Taylor. "Somehow, all this commotion adds up to aimless inertia, in part because the movie lacks a point of view — let alone anything fresh to propose about the assassination or its peripheral players."

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Related stories:

JFK Assassination: Detective Says Fatal Shot Came From Secret Service

5 Decades Later, Some JFK Probe Files Still Sealed

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