In many ways, JFK aptly represents the essence of most of the substantial conspiracy texts. They combine an uncritical analysis of their own findings - that, for example, the CIA would use Oswald as an agent, and a highly important one for that matter - with an absolute skepticism of the Warren Commission's evidence and conclusions.Stone is a great filmmaker. JFK, at first glance, makes an alarmingly good case against the traditional story as forwarded by the Warren Commission, but when one is familiar with the language of cinema, its hardly convincing. Stone's use of cinematic language gives JFK the feel of a documentary, with its black and white footage and its reliance on natural lighting, among other staples of documentary filmmaking. Take away these techniques, and the theory is exposed for what it really is: a "counter-myth" to the prevailing orthodoxy (as Stone himself once commented). Norman Mailer referred to it as "more convincing bullshit than the Warren Report's bullshit." But its still bullshit, you see?
Does this mean JFK is a bad movie? As much as I disagree with Stone's convincing bullshit, I must admit, he does a masterful job presenting it. On a strictly technical level, I enjoy it. It is a suspenseful and tautly constructed thriller, but by using what is essentially a fictional story and presenting it as historical fact, Stone ultimately shoots himself in the foot. He wants to get his point across so badly that he relies on convincing bullshit instead of pure facts.
One senses that Stone deliberately pushes his fictive interpretation over the facts. Why? The fictional account is better and more convincing propaganda against a government Stone strongly mistrusts and Americans have trusted too much.And this is where I begin to disagree with the author. Yes, the fictional account is better and more convincing, but it's still propaganda. With JFK, Stone is asking the audience to believe his story over the government's, but upon closer examination his story falls apart. If you want to show how untrustowrthy the American government is, why choose a conspiracy theory that is pretty much known to be false as the vehicle for your argument? Could it be that Stone is simply demonstrating how someone can make a convincing case based on fictional suppositions, thus deminishing the value of other explainations based on the same evidence (after all, his admission that the film is a "counter-myth" seems to imply that this may be the case)? Its a fine line Stone is straddling, and its easy to come down on eather side of the issue. Ultimately, no one knows what really happened on that fateful day, and I don't think Stone added anything significant to that, other than underscoring our lack of understanding. But damn, its fun to watch, isn't it?