November 22 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the untimely death of President John F Kennedy. Since his assassination Kennedy has become the subject of more myths, rumors, and – notoriously – conspiracy theories than any other American president. We’re all familiar with these, and phrases like “grassy knoll” and “magic bullet” have engrained themselves in the American vocabulary, for better or for worse.
These misconceptions thrive due to a lack of real information. Many revealing Kennedy-era documents have been classified for decades. Only recently have these assets been made available to historians and documentarians – marking a resurgence in Kennedy scholarship.
"JFK: A President Betrayed" draws on all these new resources to demystify the Kennedy presidency. A decade ago a film like this would have been impossible to make. We see our youngest elected president with great clarity as a steadfast idealist in constant conflict with his own administration. The CIA knowingly deceived the president, leading to the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion. Advisors pressured him to wage war on communism, while he was fully intent on withdrawing troops from Vietnam.
We can only imagine what Kennedy could have accomplished had he not faced such opposition, or had he lived to serve out a second term. The speculation will probably never truly end. But documentaries are obviously not responsible for showing us what could have been. "JFK: A President Betrayed" allows us to see the Kennedy years as they actually happened in a way that no film before it has been able to.
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