Movie Review: Parkland (3.5 Stars)


3.5 out of 5 stars

Watched BluRay late March 2014

I must be mad (hinting at March Madness) or crazy because all this film did was depress me.  These events predate me by almost ten months.  Not even a glint in my parents’ eyes yet.  I’ve stood on the white “X” on the street where President Kennedy was shot in Dallas.  I’ve walked through the park and stood in the spot where Zapruder captured the assassination on film.  I did not visit Parkland, where both Kennedy and Oswald were declared deceased.  Until this morning, I didn’t even know the name of the hospital nor the doctors and nurses burdened with that triage.

I have not read Vincent Bugliosi‘s Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, yet (I just placed a hold on the abridged audiobook … I didn’t think I could wade my way through 1,632 pages of hardcover non-fiction, even if my arms need the workout).  Again, I must be crazy, but after reading the synopsis and discovering that Bugliosi is an attorney, I couldn’t resist.  That’s what twenty-five years employment in the legal field will do to you.

The movie, Parkland, distills down the details from Reclaiming History to just four days in Dallas in late November 1963 and the lives forever changed on that short strip of blacktop.  Can we appreciate, well, let me back up, can this current generation appreciate the difference five decades makes?  I’m a nerd, or a geek, so bear with me.  It’s the technology I always focus on.

There were telephones, yes, but live operators were still needed to make long distance connections.  The hospital staff apparently didn’t get the call the President was on the way, though, as the Secret Service had to run screaming into the back entrance or side entrance of the hospital to get a stretcher or a gurney to haul Kennedy inside.  Meanwhile, other Secret Service agents were hauling Zapruder all over Dallas to find someone to develop his 16 mm film, which apparently was so cutting edge at the time that even the news media didn’t have the equipment to develop it.

Compare/Contrast to today where hundreds of bystanders would have been filming the motorcade with their smartphones, live streaming it via YouTube or Twitter or Facebook . . . not as much drama perhaps, but a whole lot more shock value, maybe, which probably just disassociates us from the true horror of that moment.

I’m giving Parkland 3.5 stars because I can’t make up my mind.  The film affected me emotionally, but not because I became attached to any of the characters, but  more because it reminded me that life rarely has a happy ending.

One character did stand out for me: Head Nurse Doris Nelson.  She wins my ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ award.

I really need to find something cheerful to watch next.  This doesn’t need to be one of the low points on my countdown to the big five oh in October.

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