Introducing Oliver Stone’s JFK at Derby Quad
To coincide with the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, I am introducing a screening of Oliver Stone’s JFK at Derby Quad at 4:30pm on Sunday 24th November, as part of the regular ‘Epic!’ strand of films you have to see on the big screen.
What does ‘epic’ mean? Literally, it is a form of poem, distinguished by the length of the historical tale it tells. By which yardstick, the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy – 50 years ago today – has become a real-life epic, a story that remains ambiguous enough for conspiracy theorists and revisionists to question the official version of events.
And none of these accounts is more epic than Oliver Stone’s JFK, his three-hour 1991 film about Jim Garrison’s attempts to uncover a second shooter on the grassy knoll that day in Dallas. It is a compendium of every rumour and doubtful piece of evidence, shot by Stone and Oscar-wnning cinematographer Robert Richardson in an innovative and still-startling mosaic of film stocks, filters and styles.
Stone was the leading director of his era in terms of column inches, critical debate and awards, but this is his magnum opus, a one-man crusade to rewrite the history books. The cast alone screams ‘epic,’ with star Kevin Costner surrounded by seemingly every other actor in Hollywood, including Kevin Bacon, whose presence makes the famous ‘Six Degrees’ game that little bit easier to play.
Whether you believe Stone’s rapid-fire paranoia or still believe that Lee Harvey Oswald was a lone gunman, this remains one of the great political epics, a brilliant use of cinema to generate debate and a film whose audacious telling demands the big-screen treatment. In fact, JFK was the first three-hour-long film I went to see twice at the cinema, and I’m looking forward to making it a third time.