President John F. Kennedy's motorcade approaches Dealey Plaza. Gun shots ring out. JFK suddenly slumps over in his open car, Jacquie scrambles onto the limo's trunk, the vehicle speeds away. News reports describe the popping sounds of three shots, tell of ensuing chaos as citizens seek cover and announce JFK's death at a nearby hospital. Soon we see tape of Lee Harvey Oswald's arrest, perp walk and subsequent murder. Eventually, we read the Warren Commission Report's analysis of evidence in the 20th century's most significant murder case. It's all quite familiar.
But what really happened?
Oswald's Ghost is documentary film director Robert Stone's investigative unraveling of the intensely entangled web of contradictions and improbabilities that currently stands as the official and acceptable interpretation of case evidence. Stone presents a thorough investigation of the famous Zapruder tape and all the available images and information, and calls upon Dallas Morning News reporter Hugh Aynesworth, Dan Rather and other key eye witnesses for their testimony, and activist Tom Hayden, attorney Mark Lane and various experts for their opinion about what led up to and happened on that fateful day.
The investigation is both thorough and credible, and in the end, Stone concludes that Lee Harvey Oswald was not acting alone, that he could not have singlehandedly fired those three shots that changed the course of American history.
But, as one of the film's expert witnesses says, it's unlikely we'll ever be able to uncover the entire truth about the assassination of JFK because Jack Ruby murdered the principal perpetrator and witness, Lee Harvey Oswald, before he was thoroughly questioned and brought to trial.
According to the film, Lyndon B. Johnson suffered from extreme paranoia after he assumed office, and that was the root cause for his escalation of the Vietnam War. Apparently LBJ never believed the Warren Commission Report's interpretation of the evidence, and continued to subscribe to a conspiracy theory about the killing of JFK.
Furthermore, the film draws a convincing parallel between the aftermath of the assassination of JFK and that of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, suggesting that the Iraq War is sort of a replay response to the extreme fear and paranoia that has been loosed in our society.
Oswald's Ghost is a very insightful film that challenges audiences to reexamine that chain of events unleashed by the still unsolved murder of JFK. The film is an important history lesson, but it's also an important comment on our current political and social milieu.
If you want to watch this documentary along with a narrative feature about the assassination of JFK, Oliver Stone's movie, JFK, starring Kevin Costner, is an excellent choice.