Friday Film (53)

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose‘ — and we ain’t talking ‘small change‘, either…

Not that I expect there to be much important information contained therein — indeed, I don’t really expect the release to take place as announced! — but, as you may have learned from your favourite news replacement services, this coming Thursday is the day by which thousands of archive documents relating to the 1963 Kennedy assassination are supposed to be made public.

Now, the subject of John F Kennedy’s assassination is, of course, one that has a powerful hold on many people’s minds — mine included: every now and then I have a quick look around to see what has been produced since my last quick look, and I’m not above popping into a bookshop and searching out a few significant entries in a new book’s index to see what (if anything…) has been added to our knowledge of those topics since the previous book came out.

I myself heard about this latest ‘news story’ via a link to the Guardian website that someone had posted on so-called ‘social media’. As you may know, the Guardian is a power-serving sewer of lies that is as unforgivably crooked as any outlet in our media, and it needs to be driven out of business as quickly and as painfully as possible; this being so, there is no way at all that any blog of mine will be directing revenue-generating ‘clicks’ to its overwhelmingly worthless pages. What I will do instead is place a ‘screenshot’ here so that people will see the piece that I read — and have the opportunity to detect the schoolboy howler that is contained in the text: yes, my point is not only that this supposed bastion of supposedly ‘liberal’ journalism is corrupted beyond any hope of reparation, but also that it is journalistically incompetent to an extent that is close to unbelievable

Did you spot it?

Yes: it was the line ‘informing’ you that Kennedy ‘was the third US president to be assassinated, after Abraham Lincoln in 1865 and William McKinley in 1901‘.

Wrong. The utterly simple fact — and there is no more easily checkable fact in modern history! — is that Kennedy was the fourth sitting president to be assassinated: the employees of every liberal’s favourite media sewer have simply left out President James A. Garfield, who was murdered in 1881.

How could the Guardian‘s journalist-impersonators do such a thing? Well, as it happens, I can tell you. The would-be article’s mention of the vile Alistair Cooke (yes, vile: people have forgotten his demented, racist obsession with what he used to call ‘miscegenation’; but I haven’t) and its lazy quotation from the ‘report’ he filed all those years ago is what provides the clue. In that ‘report’, from the day after Kennedy was killed (and, needless to say, it’s full of horseshit), Cooke says the following:

He died in the emergency room of the Parkland Memorial Hospital 32 minutes after the attack. He was 46 years old. He is the third President to be assassinated in office since Abraham Lincoln and the first since President McKinley in 1901.

See what happened?

Yes: your Guardian piece was produced by people without reading skills, without general knowledge, without a preparedness to engage in even the most elementary checking, and without any interest in writing their own copy

Don’t read the Guardian, people. Last time I looked, it was losing £300,000 per day. Let it die.

*     *     *

What does any of this have to do with film music and our weekly series of postings about it? Well, simply the fact that when Oliver Stone’s 1991 film JFK was released, I was far more impressed by John Williams’s inevitably masterly score than I was by the movie as a whole, much as I did enjoy some of the latter.

Of course, the filmed part of the film is a considerable achievement overall. I loved its introductory use of reams and reams of archive footage of all types to create that vivid sense of context and period; I admired the actors’ and writers’ success in bringing to life various historical personages (Oswald and Ferrie above all); and I was bowled over by the impact of those numerous, sometimes mutually contradictory reconstructions and the way modern footage was blended with historical fragments.

What I couldn’t stand, on the other hand, were the several shocking failures of directorial integrity. There are things presented and apostrophised as ‘important facts’ in the film that are not merely false, but were known at the time of filming to be false: Stone put them in anyway — and for that he cannot be forgiven, whatever the leeway to which you or anyone else may think he is entitled as ‘a creative personality striving to fashion a coherent yet resonant narrative from a complex subject within the inevitable constraints of … blah … blah‘.

Williams’s music, on the other hand,  didn’t disappoint at the time, and hasn’t let me down in the interim. (In fact, it hasn’t let him down, either: some bits of it are jolly close to things he did a little later in the marvellous Jurassic Park [1993].)

I want to present the film’s entire opening segment here, not least with the intention of bringing it to a generation of people who haven’t seen it. I myself knew almost nothing about the movie at the time I first saw it — I’d been staying in some rural part of the Netherlands for a while, and hadn’t seen any publicity in a language I understood — so it really did come at me out of nowhere

I admit that, in this clip, the co-ordination of image, conceptual content and music isn’t perfect throughout — and I’ll bet you a lunch at my favourite Cambridge pub that this isn’t anything to do with John Williams. You’ll see the bit I’m mostly talking about: I reckon Williams did what he was meant to do — and then they changed the rough cut afterwards … leaving the music and the musical viewer very much in the lurch, very much in the time-honoured film-industry manner…

(You’ll also have to forgive the clip’s disgusting and unfactual presentation of Kennedy as a glorious paragon: it is sadly impossible to turn that down — and without it having been put there, the film would never have sold to a US audience pitifully incapable of facing up to the awful reality of what its nation and its presidents have always been…)

And now one further clip — shorter than I’d like; but corporate lawyers see to it that the number of available extracts on YouTube is savagely limited for my didactic and celebratory purposes…

As you watch this one, note that Williams is not only a film composer who knows when to stop, but also one who knows when not to start

I leave it up to the viewer to decide whether or not this is terrific film-making — and to serious experts in ‘assassinology’ to enumerate what might be the flaws in the investigative analysis as presented.

If anyone wants to explore John Williams’s entire score without visual and conceptual distractions and without someone fading it up and down all the time, they may be interested in the following — which (for as long as it stays available) appears to be the commercial soundtrack album…

And, if anyone wishes to watch a somewhat florid ‘rival’ analysis of the events of that hot, dry afternoon in Dallas, all the way back in November 1963, they may enjoy the following segment of a video presentation that appears to have been produced by a private individual with a passionate interest in this assassination and in finding specifiable connections with other crimes committed in and by the US gangster state…

No, I’m not ‘endorsing it’: I’m simply putting it here for people who’d like to see it. Maybe it’s wrong here, there or everywhere, in spite of its author’s evident hunger for a coherent narrative. But even if it is, things could be worse. I mean, you might be reading the Guardian


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