On the morning of November 22, 1963, many folks in Dallas did not expect to be impacted by the Presidential visit – not the medical staff at Parkland Memorial Hospital, not the assassin’s brother Robert Oswald and, shockingly, not the local FBI office. Businessman Abraham Zapruder did intend to catch a peek at the spectacle of a presidential motorcade, but as an onlooker, not as a participant. This is the inventive perspective of Parkland, which sharply dramatizes the events of November 22-25 in Dallas. We’re all familiar with the actions of JFK, Jackie, Lee Harvey Oswald and LBJ on that fateful day, but these characters are only glimpsed in Parkland, which explores the JFK assassination from the viewpoints of the secondary participants.
It’s a very successful approach. The four story lines are compelling – the surgeries, the Zapruder film and the reactions by the Oswalds and the local FBI office. Parkland‘s rapid cuts and handheld (but not too jerky) cameras enhance the urgency.
The cast is excellent, with the most unforgettable performances coming from Marcia Gay Harden as an emergency room nurse, Paul Giamatti as Zapruder, James Badge Dale (the unforgettable Gaunt Young Man in Flight) and Jacki Weaver (Oscar nominated for Animal Kingdom) as Marguerite Oswald.
Parkland is conspiracy-theory-neutral. It portrays events that everybody – regardless of how you feel about the lone gunman theory – recognizes: the emergency surgeries attempting to save Kennedy (and then Oswald), the processing of the Zapruder film, the Oswald family’s reaction to the events, the FBI’s destruction of some key evidence.
Parkland is now available on DVD from Netflix and Redbox and streaming from Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube, GooglePlay and XBOX Live.