In Review: Parkland

by Maryann O'Connor on 22/11/2013


Parkland seeks to tell the wearingly overexposed story of JFK’s assassination from a less explored angle; mainly that of the hospital staff who tended to Kennedy in Dallas, the Oswald family and the local FBI office.

An excited bystander named Abraham Zapruder (Paul Giamatti) with access to advanced camera equipment captures the gruesome moment at which the U.S.A. lost its celebrity President and finds himself the post-shooting focus for everyone you could think of. The FBI decide if local special agent (Ron Livingston) could have prevented Oswald from shooting the President and the hospital staff at Parkland hospital, including Dr. Jim Carrico (Zac Efron), reel from the part they played in the closing moments of JFK’s life and death.

There are so many sub-plots to this narrative, it is difficult to know what to focus on. So the quality of each sub-plot decides that for us: Giamatti and his character Zapruder are the clear frontrunner for most moving part of the story. His story is closely followed by that of assassinator Oswald’s brother Robert and his mother Marguerite.

After all the coals have been hauled over again, you do wonder what the purpose of this latest JFK film is. Apart from the ‘obvious’ need for a 50th anniversary of death film.

It is weirdly ambiguous, not passing judgement on Oswald but not flaming the fire and interest of conspiracy theorists either. On one hand, it clearly says that the interest in the footage of JFK’s death is disrespectful but then again the existence of a further film about his death just about condones the news agencies interest in trying to get that footage in the first place. In one scene, Oswald’s brother looks at the crows gathering nosily in the trees and then looks at the press photographers, which appears to be a thinly disguised comment on the profession.

When you consider the sum of Parkland’s parts, it is not much more than a docu-soap. Some sections are mawkish as well as needlessly descriptive, which only adds to the soapy feel of it all.

Parkland’s greatest legacy is probably to point out to us that we still don’t know what happened on 22 November 1963 and that we’re never likely to know.

Maryann has awarded Parkland two Torches of Truth


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