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Manipulation of Truth in Oliver Stone's Jfk

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Manipulation of Truth in Oliver Stone's JFK

Oliver Stone is a master of manipulation. Being an expert in the art of directing, Stone is able to make an audience believe whatever he wishes. In the 1991 film JFK, Oliver Stone manipulates facts in order to convey a fictional conspiracy involving the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The Zapruder film and the magic bullet theory are two facts that Stone employs to trick the audience into believing his fabricated tale.

Stone unfolds this film through the eyes of Jim Garrison, the district attorney of New Orleans, who believes that there is more to the assassination than what has been presented in the past. Although three years have gone by since the conclusion of the trial, Garrison feels personally obligated to uncover classified information that will prove a complex government coup d'etat. Garrison's idea that the United States government is somehow related to Kennedy's assassination is first seen in the opening of the film. Stone flashes scenes from the Zapruder film (an eight millimeter live video of the shooting) where he mutes the original audio sounds and replaces them with ceremonial music, representative of the United States government. Being that the Zapruder film is a piece of documented evidence; a general audience does not question its validity. This replacement of sound is a conscious attempt to foreshadow the conclusion that Stone wants the audience to come to at the end of the film. By linking together visual images of the assassination with military music, Stone sends a subliminal message that two are somehow related. In reality, this connection is nothing more than a fictional interpretation contrived by Oliver Stone.

Where does reality end and fiction begin in Garrison's conspiracy theory? This is a question that one must ask themselves before viewing the final episode of JFK. The final element of the movie is made up of an intense and captivating courtroom scene. It is here where Garrison culminates the entirety of his speculations and presents them in front of a court of law. Are Garrison's suppositions valid, or is it the way in which he presents these conjectures that makes them appear to be true? Garrison's passionate and charismatic rhetoric makes his accusations exceedingly persuasive. It is at this point, where Stone again uses the Zapruder film as a means to substantiate fiction. Stone does not alter the film in any way, keeping the original audio sounds in place. He does not attempt to again trick the audience into making false connections, but rather present the film in such a way that they will feel specific emotions of sadness, disgust, vulnerability, anger and a call to action. Stone's goal is to make the viewers (both in the courtroom as well as the general audience watching the movie) want justice to be served, therefore, making them more willing to agree with Garrison's far-fetched theory.

Garrison dims the lights as an aura of apprehension fills the courtroom. Bystanders appear anxious and uncomfortable in the sullen darkness. Stone spends time focusing in on random viewers as they begin to show signs of discomfort such as fidgeting, fixing clothing and clasping hands. As the Zapruder film unfolds, Stone continues to flash scenes of these viewers. Cringing faces, squinting eyes and clenched fists exemplify the horrific effect that the film has on the audience. By showing the reactions of the bystanders, Stone forces a general audience to react in a similar way. Outside viewers empathize with the feelings of sadness, disgust and terror had by those within the courtroom. This act of vicarious compassion ultimately places Stone in the perfect position to persuade both audiences to believe Garrison's conjecture.

Stone quickly switches his means of manipulation after the presentation of the Zapruder film. Now that he has the full attention of both audiences, Stone begins to refute conclusions made during the first assassination trial. In the previous trial, jurors concluded that there was only one assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. This theory (that a single bullet caused several wounds killing the president and injuring Texas Governor, John Connally), was titled the magic bullet theory. Garrison uses his persuasive rhetoric in order to make this theory appear absurd as well as impossible. "This theory can be proved by theoretical physics, ladies and gentile-men. However, theoretical physics can prove that an elephant can hang from a cliff with its tail tied to a daisy." This excerpt is stated by Jim Garrison as he begins to physically demonstrate the path of the magic bullet. Garrison sets up chairs and places his associates



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