JFK – That unforgotten story of the ages
I was in shock. It was like an invisible storm that suddenly blows you off your mind. If you didn’t feel the same after watching JFK then maybe you should watch it again, more raptly this time. When the film reached its credits, I was dazed – and for the first time not by the makers of the film Oliver Stone or the actors like Kevin Costner or Gary Oldman. All of them were doubtlessly extraordinary but what dazed me was the sheer lucidity of the story – the naked verities of US’s Late President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. And to imagine that our modus operandi can so easily befool us – even the thought is so intimidating.
Mind you, this is no serious one-time watch cinema. JFK will give you much more than the mere understanding of characters playing real life roles. On the outside it looks like a true story with an unfolding mystery pertaining to US President John F. Kennedy‘s murder that is investigated by Jim Garrison and his team. But as you engross yourself in the film (which has a runtime of over 3 hours) you will see an entire economy of a country, the fate of its people that has been altered time and again with the powerful big shots who keep shifting their seats pushing one another for the most comfortable space.
The film is a true story – perhaps the most convincing political & historical thriller of all times. What a combination of genres na? And it had to be because it is no fiction. It is not only a risk but against ethics to compromise on a narrative like this and thus one of the longest Hollywood films I have come across.
Because there was a lot of political reference throughout the movie , there are three historical facts that you need to know so as to understand JFK better :
1. US – An anti-communist country and Soviet – a Communist
Back during the cold war years, you know that there were two super-powers. One was a capitalist economy i.e. US and the other was a socialist, obviously the Soviet Union (USSR). All the wars, civil wars, cold wars and more – that you hear about were all results of America being an anti Communist and Soviet being communist. For example, North Vietnam was a communist state and South Vietnam an anti-Communist state. So, when they were at war, US began to interfere. Why? Well, according to US’s policy of containment, it uses strategies to stop the spread of communism abroad. Hence, the Vietnam war.
Similarly in Cuba, Fidel Castro came to power in 1959 and advocated communism after shaking hands with the Soviet union. Now obviously, USA was NOT ok with that, period.
2. Anti Castro wars
US tried different manoeuvres to get rid of the Castro government. One of the them was The Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 where the Cuban exiles were gathered and trained by the CIA personnels. But back in Cuba, the military forces were well equipped and straightened up by the pro communist nations and thus drove the Cuban-exiled-US-trained combatants out in three days. This was a great shame for Kennedy’s government and he had been appointed the Presidentship only 3 months before the invasion took place. In September 1961, because of this “fiasco” Allen Dulles, the then director of CIA was forced to resign along with his team. In fact President Kennedy reportedly said he wanted to “splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it into the winds.” US – the greatest superpower in the world losing to Cuba? What are the odds huh!? There are no odds actually. Fidel Castro’s army knew about the “secret” invasion, because of this:
This gave Cubans an amazing history to remember though. Anyway, then again in November 1961, the CIA under his administration commenced belligerent covert (secret) operations against the Pro-Communist Castro regime called the Operation Mongoose. This was operated from Miami which had the largest domestic CIA station. 300 agents, 7000 select Cubans (exiled people), 50 fake business fronts to launder money. There was a round the clock war waging against Castro government from industrial sabotage to crop burning and more.
3. The Cuban Missile Crisis
Now our communist groups were extremely furious. After these numerous attempts of the US invasion in Cuba till August 1962, the Soviet union and Cuba together decided to strike the continental US by assembling the most deadly weapons like the MRBMs and the IRBMs at the Soviet missile bases in Cuba. To resolve the crisis which could have lead to another World war III President Kennedy, the UN Secretary General U Thant and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union’s Secretary Nikita Khrushchev made an agreement where the offensive weapons were to be moved from the Cuban bases back to Soviet Union and in return, the US President promised to never invade Cuba again. Some deal I say. If this “genius” idea had befallen upon them much earlier millions of lives could have been saved.
The Additional Vietnam scene
By 1963, Kennedy had started planning to move the US troops out of Vietnam. That November, President of South Vietnam Ngo Dinh Diem was assassinated. No. Don’t pity him. He was a religious fanatic anyway. Three weeks later John F. Kennedy died too and after that the Vietnam war started for real. Why did I mention this? You will know.
X, an anonymous figure and the Chief of Special Ops in the US army during 1960s told Jim Garrison:
..Kennedy wanted to end the Cold War in his second term. He wanted to call off the moon race and cooperate with the Soviets. He signed a treaty to ban nuclear testing. He refused to invade Cuba in 1962. He set out to withdraw from Vietnam. But all that ended on the 22nd of November, 1963..
In 1963, November 22nd President Kennedy was assassinated by accused Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas, Texas in front of hundreds of people. No. Nobody saw Oswald fire the gun. Like every accused he denies of the crime and two days after the President’s murder and two days before his trial on 26th November 1963 our murderer was murdered. Why would a hater do what the government can? Instead of clearing the air of more obvious doubts, the Warren Commission report (The commission appointed to investigate the assassination of the Late President) concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone malefactor of President’s assassination. By now Lyndon B. Johnson was the appointed the President of US.
Now Read this:
Jim Garrison: I never realized Kennedy was so dangerous to the establishment. Is that why (he was murdered)?
X: Well that’s the real question, isn’t it? Why? The how and the who is just scenery for the public. Oswald, Ruby, Cuba, the Mafia. Keeps ’em guessing like some kind of parlor game, prevents ’em from asking the most important question, why? Why was Kennedy killed? Who benefited? Who has the power to cover it up? Who?
There is a dialogue that X recalls to be the scene between President Johnson and the Generals of the US army- the day after Kennedy died. President Johnson said:
Gentlemen, I am not going to let Vietnam go like China did. I’m committed not to take our soldiers out of there till they know we mean business in Asia. (Lyndon Johnson signs National Security Memo 273 which reverses Kennedy’s withdrawal policy and approves covert action against North Vietnam provoking the Gulf of Tonkin incident) Just get me elected, I’ll give you the damn war.
The war meant money, hundreds of million dollars were at stake. Any kind of withdrawal of the army meant stopping the supplies of the thousands of ammunitions and thus the terrible loss in business. President Eisenhower (before Kennedy) warns in his 1961 farewell address about ‘Military industrial complex’ was new to America and it will have its consequences. He said –
“We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.”
John F. Kennedy always wanted peace. In one of his speeches shown in the first five minutes of the film he says:
“..What kind of a peace do I mean? And what kind of a peace do I seek? Not a pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. We must re-examine our own attitudes towards the Soviet Union. Our most basic, common link is that we all inhabit this small planet..”
JFK is an adapted screenplay of Jim Garrison’s book “On the trail of the assassins” as well as a documentary with all the original clippings of President Kennedy’s videos. The truth which the film reveals is so disturbing, I can’t imagine the impact it must have had on the American citizens who had been lied so unashamedly about it and perhaps, still are. But that is for you to watch and comment, American or not, corruption and dirty politics is not a new story for any sustaining economy, let alone you my Bharat-vasis.
I would have broken down in the last scene if it was about my country. The film is a powerful reminder to all the citizens in their respective democracies that everyone has the right to know the truth and those who – in power denounce it must be charged with perjury or more. But the question is, will we?