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Koch Vision presents
The Kennedy Assassination: Beyond Conspiracy (2003)

"People want to believe that the world is not that random. That things are not that chaotic. That something larger, bigger, was at stake here. Because I think it's very difficult for them to accept the idea that someone as inconsequential as Oswald could have killed someone as consequential as Kennedy."
- Robert Dallek (Author, An Unfinished Life)

Review By: Matt Peterson  
Published: April 06, 2004

Stars: Peter Jennings
Director: Mark Obenhaus

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (graphic violence from the Zapruder film)
Run Time: 01h:29m:06s
Release Date: April 06, 2004
UPC: 741952622093
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

We all know the details of the tragedy. We all know the myriad of conspiracy theories that surround it. Was it the mob? Castro? Russia? Did Lee Harvey Oswald act alone? Did he...act at all? Was he simply a patsy, like Oswald himself, and Oliver Stone, would have you believe? There have been countless books, documentaries, and at least one standout motion picture that has tried to clear away the fog of mystery surrounding one of America's darkest events. Now, it's up to the bravura of one Peter Jennings to reveal the truth behind the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

In The Kennedy Assassination: Beyond Conspiracy, Jennings tries to put the idea of a massive conspiracy to rest. When an event is so disruptive to the fabric of America, it is assumed that equally grand schemes made it a reality. Certainly, a great leader like Kennedy could not have been gunned down by a simple twist of fate—by a defector who happened to shoot, with uncanny accuracy, from a cheap Italian rifle. According to Jennings and his collection of interviewees, this is exactly what happened.

Without the 8mm home movie by Anthony Zapruder, that day would forever be shrouded in complete uncertainty. In a mere six feet of celluloid, Zapruder captured the event in gruesome detail. Using this film, computer animator Dale Myers create a virtual model of Dealey Plaza and superimposed the proper CGI elements directly on each frame of the film. This generated a perfectly accurate 3-D representation of the Zapruder footage, allowing the viewer to observe the event from any angle. Through stunning animation, the Magic Bullet theory is disproved, and the bullet, traced back to Oswald's supposed location: the sixth floor of the Texas Book Depository.

From here on out, the documentary explores several topics, beginning with in-depth profiles on Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby. Jennings illustrates these men as cut from the same cloth—they were both men who were never taken seriously, thirsting for attention and, as one interviewee states, "not playing with a full deck." Oswald's section is especially intriguing, and includes details on his unsuccessful assassination attempt on General Edwin Walker, a prominent anti-communist and segregationist in the South. Comments from Oswald's brother reveal volumes about the man's disturbed character. He states if the US had been communist, Oswald would have advocated democracy.

Jennings also delves into the Warren Commission, the House Select Committee on Assassinations (which claimed to establish there was a fourth shot fired, but is disproved), and the millions of pages of documents surrounding the event. Jennings even spends time on the inaccuracies of Stone's JFK, a stunning film in its own right that captures America's feelings surrounding the tragedy. However, it is suggested here that it should not be considered a historical document. There are some interesting comments from interviewees, including one who states that JFK proved filmmakers are the most influential historians of the 20th century; too many people have seen Stone's film as fact.

Originally airing on November 20, 2003, this is one of the best documentaries on the JFK assassination I have seen, and, in my opinion, probably one of the most accurate. Jennings spends time debunking and profiling, building the case that the "lone nut theory" is the right one. This is probably the case, but Jennings seems too confident in the matter for my taste. The assassination of Kennedy is one of those events that is so buried in speculation, distorted facts, theories, and evidence that the truth will never be fully revealed. Computer models and further investigation may bring us close, but as anyone knows, a computer is only as smart as the information you put into it. Are we missing data? Most certainly. The rest is for you to decide.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: For television material, this image looks good. I do wonder if the program was broadcast in 1.78:1 HD, but the 1.33:1 transfer provided here shows good detail and color. Minimal artifacting and some motion "jaggies" are present. Of course, picture quality varies drastically between the interview segments and the frequent archival footage. Clips from JFK are sadly cropped to about 2:1 and look washed out. The 3-D animation segments look especially good, since they probably came directly from the original digital source.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The audio is a serviceable stereo track, with no encoded surround information. The track is crisp and clear, and features some effective music.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 8 cues
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: unmarked keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extras Review: Koch Vision has provided no extras, and some very shoddy menus. It would have been nice to see some supplemental interviews and documents—a missed opportunity.

Extras Grade: F


Final Comments

Jennings' case for the theory that Oswald acted alone, this documentary utilizes cutting edge technology, insightful interviews, and comprehensive analysis, bringing us closer to what probably happened that fateful day. Review the evidence for yourself.


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