Oswald’s Ghost

Oswald’s Ghost

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Having investigated one of the 1970s’ strangest pop-culture mysteries with Guerilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst, documentarian Robert Stone turns his attention to the 1960s’ greatest mystery with Oswald’s Ghost. The title of this nonfiction examination into JFK’s assassination implies that its focus is the legacy of Lee Harvey Oswald and his infamous crime, but the truth—like that of the assassination itself, at least according to “single bullet theory” advocates—is far more mundane. Stone dutifully lays out the particulars of that fateful day in Dallas and the grief, hysteria, skepticism, and cynicism that ensued. Dan Rather, Norman Mailer, and authors Mark Lane, Edward Jay Epstein, and Josiah Thompson (among others) discuss what it was like to have lived through and/or covered the days, months, and years after JFK’s murder. And the film presents not only the logistical particulars of the shooting but also the way in which conspiracy theories—with distrust of the media and government rising thanks to Vietnam and the subsequent slayings of MLK and Bobby Kennedy—took firm root in the American consciousness. Conjecture implicating the mafia, the C.I.A., LBJ, and Castro are all floated, while archival photos and news footage of Oswald, as well as repeated clips from the Zapruder film, strain to locate some heretofore-undiscovered certainty regarding the case. Unlike his namesake Oliver, who appears in interviews from the set of JFK, Stone doesn’t posit his own hypothesis, which may be shrewd but winds up leaving his documentary as merely a Beginner’s Guide to the entire affair. Oswald’s Ghost only skims the surface of the short- and long-term social and political ramifications of JFK’s death, and in the face of dueling conclusions—conspiracy buffs’ staunch belief that Oswald didn’t act alone, and others’ conviction that he did—the film ultimately just shrugs its shoulders as if to say, “Got me. You decide.”

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DVD
Distributor
7th Art Releasing
Runtime
90 min
Rating
NR
Year
2007
Director
Robert Stone
Screenwriter
Robert Stone
Cast
Norman Mailer, Gary Hart, Dan Rather, Mark Lane, Edward Jay Epstein, Tom Hayden, Todd Gitlin, Priscilla McMillan, Hugh Aynesworth, Josiah Thompson, Robert Dallek