Classic conspiracy movies for summer viewing, week 5

CLASSIC CONSPIRACY MOVIE PICK OF THE WEEK

Oliver Stone’s JFK (1991) is this week’s recommendation for a classic conspiracy-political paranoia film. What you think about it as a movie will likely depend on what you already think about John F. Kennedy’s tragic assassination in 1963. If you’re the kind of person satisfied that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, which was what the Warren Commission determined shortly after the assassination, then Stone’s version of events may drive you crazy. But if you suspect that Oswald did not alone and that there was a larger and more sinister conspiracy at work, then there is probably something in Stone’s film that you’ll find intriguing.

Whatever you may think of Stone because of his outspoken political beliefs, it’s hard to argue that JFK is not highly effective and original filmmaking. It’s partially based on theories devised by Jim Garrison, one-time District Attorney of New Orleans, but it extends its speculations well beyond that. 

Despite the fact that many writers, editorialists, and cultural observers concluded that Stone’s JFK was hogwash, many of these same people clearly were fearful that people would take it seriously. It’s easy to see why. Stone brilliantly marshals his creative powers to drive home his points. Some scenes are pure Hollywood, but Stone mixes in authentic archival footage and simulated footage to create a persuasive whole.

In some ways, JFK‘s release in 1991 kicked off a decade of much conspiracy theorizing. American politics was becoming harsher and more cynical, creating ideal feeding grounds for growing conspiracy theories. In 1993, when the Fox television network launched Chris Carter’s celebrated series The X-Files, American culture was awash in conspiracy theories covering a wide range of topics. Doubts about the official story of John Kennedy’s death may not have created that situation, but widespread skepticism about the government’s version of events on that fateful day in 1963 surely played a part.

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TO MARK THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BOOK CONSPIRACY THEORY IN FILM, TELEVISION, AND POLITICS, I ‘M SUGGESTING A DIFFERENT CLASSIC FILM WITH A CONSPIRACY OR POLITICAL PARANOIA THEME EVERY WEEK THIS SUMMER. THINK OF IT AS A DO-IT-YOURSELF PARANOID SUMMER FILM FESTIVAL.