Fifty years after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, “Parkland” still has the power to hit you like a fast-moving bus.
A recreation of Nov. 22, 1963, as seen through the eyes of people who were directly involved, Peter Landesman’s film has the immediacy of a documentary, though it is a dramatization with actors. It takes you places and puts you into the middle of scenes that you’ve only heard or read about. It reminds you of just what a personal loss Kennedy’s assassination felt like – not only to his immediate circle but to people who only knew him through headlines and television.
It also explores the impact on the people who had a hands-on role in the events immediately following his shooting. They include the emergency room doctors who tried to save Kennedy, the Secret Service men tasked with protecting him, Abraham Zapruder (a bystander who happened to be shooting home movies and captured the assassination on film), and Bob Oswald, brother of Lee Harvey Oswald, Kennedy’s assassin.
Kennedy’s killing is one of those historic moments – like 9/11 – that seemingly touched everyone. No one who was alive and old enough to register the tragedy will forget where they were when they heard the news. Nor will they forget that long weekend of mourning, culminating in Kennedy’s funeral.
But Landesman’s film brings back details and provides an inside look at the events as experienced by the people who were right there. If it was a shock to be a student in a classroom whose school day was interrupted by the bulletin that the president had been shot, it was that much more unnerving to be the doctor on call at Dallas’ Parkland Hospital emergency room, where Kennedy was brought.
This review continues on my website.