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Oswald's Ghost (2008)

Hugh Aynesworth , David Bellin , Robert Stone  |  NR |  DVD
2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Hugh Aynesworth, David Bellin, Hale Boggs, Judith Campbell Exner, Fidel Castro
  • Directors: Robert Stone
  • Writers: Robert Stone
  • Producers: Robert Stone, Hazel Gurland
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: January 15, 2008
  • Run Time: 83 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #235,083 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Oswald's Ghost" on IMDb

Special Features

  • A Visit to the Dealey Plaza
  • The Zapruder Film and Beyond
  • Interview with Robert Stone

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas on November 22, 1963 left a psychic wound on America that is with us still today. Few Americans then or now accept that a lone, inconsequential gunman could bring down a president and alter history. In that breach, a culture of conspiracy has arisen that point to sinister forces at work in the shadows. Drawing upon rarely seen archival footage and interviews with key participants, Oswald’s Ghost takes a fresh look at Kennedy’s assassination, the public’s reaction to the tragedy, and the government investigations that instead of calming fears lead to a widespread loss of trust in the institutions that govern our society.

Complex and troubling, the documentary Oswald's Ghost examines what happened after the Kennedy assassination--it is less about possible conspiracies than about how the belief in conspiracies has affected our culture and those who pursued them. The abundance of archival footage of Lee Harvey Oswald after his arrest--sometimes in press conferences, sometimes simply being transported in handcuffs by officers--is startling and fascinating. The interviewees include one-time presidential candidate Gary Hart, former news anchor Dan Rather, author Norman Mailer (who, over the course of researching his book Oswald's Tale, changed his mind about whether Oswald acted alone), and the numerous authors of books on the subject. Oswald's Ghost presents arguments from all sides and may upset anyone with a rigid mind about the issue, but its fluid and hypnotic narrative will engage even viewers with only a casual interest in the topic. The extra features, which are just as compelling as the movie itself, include a much more extensive discourse on the Zapruder film and a thoughtful interview with the director, Robert Stone (Guerilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst), who explains how he wanted to make film that would interest people on either side of the conspiracy question. He succeeded. --Bret Fetzer

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 30 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars NO NEW INSIGHTS BUT SOME STRIKING IMAGES January 15, 2008
Not an investigation and no new insights here, but true to the title, this is a look at the lingering presence of the mystery of Oswald and the assassination that will forever link him with JFK.

The implied conclusion (big surprise) of this PBS broadcast film is that Oswald acted alone but that we are not psychologically able to grasp that fact since recent polls suggest 70% of Americans think otherwise.

None of the big lingering mysteries of that day are explained or explored. Are there high tech forensics that can be used today to look at the event? Not touched on.

Only the varying opinions of those involved as newscasters or lawyer and authors. Some glaring contradictions are not followed up like Dan Rather's incorrect original description of the head-snap of JFK after seeing the Zapruder film. Rather is interviewed for the film but not asked that question even though it is pointed out in a vintage clip.

And has anyone done stress analysis audio tests on Oswald's recorded vocal denial of any involvement in the assassination?

Some of the vintage footage is especially sharp.

Engaging but not revealing.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Whodunit, but What Whodunit Has Done to Us January 19, 2008
The above title is a paraphrase of film maker Robert Stone's own explanation about what compelled him to make this seductive and oddly unnerving documentary. He says it at the end of his 16 minute interview which is part of the bonus material on the newly released DVD of 'Oswald's Ghost' The film itself is not so much about who did or did not kill JFK, although Stone comes out, on the wings of some beautifully cadenced articulation from Norman Mailer, with a plausibly reasoned narrative that shows Oswald was far more intelligent, educated, motivated and therefore capable of soley killing one of the most popular presidents of the century than most of us would ever care or dare to suspect. But whether or not this may sway your JFK conspiratorial or anti conspiratorial belief system, his real aim is to look at the nature and actual necessity of the conspiracy theory itself, something which all the anti-establishment and pro establishment theorists never seem to have done

JFK's assasination was a national trauma rivaled only by 911, but what made it most appaling was millions of people like myself, then in high school, had to witness the subsequent assasination of prime suspect Lee Harvey Oswald by some Dallas saloon operator on national live tv. The impact of those four days is immeasurable, but Stone should be applauded for exploring what this meant to a decade, a generation and ultimately an entire society to the present day.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Oswald's Ghost is not, on the surface, just another documentary on the assassination of John F. Kennedy seeking to prove one theory or another. Yet while the film ostensibly is not on the whodunit but that question ahs done to us, Oswald's Ghost has a definite bias in it. But even if on disagrees with this interpretation of the facts, there is still something to be watched here.

Director Robert Stone seems to have done his homework. His interviews cover many proponents of both sides of the argument. He also goes a step further to present unseen or rarely seen / heard materials including news clips and the actual Dallas police recordings. Stone also chooses to employ some interesting visual techniques in the film as well. For example there is the whirlpool of Oswald and Warren Commission images at the start of the film, the (apparent) black hole of conspiracy books, and the positive / negative effect on stock footage during the playing of the recording of Perry Russo's sodium pentothal questioning. These make the film visually interesting and watch-able, even if one doesn't agree with the facts as presented.

Thus the film's fault lies in its bias. While Stone does offer the conspiracy theorists plenty of screen time to defend their views and for the most part I'll admit the film is pretty even handed. Yet in the last few minutes of the film, Stone seems convinced that the mystery is solved and has been for nearly forty-five years. The film then proceeds to essentially say that independent researchers (that is to say conspiracy theorists) have led the public on a wild goose chase of truly epic proportions.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I am surprised that this program stirred up so much bitterness in some reviewers. I could see very little that was controversial in it - in fact little that was new information. Some of the commentaries were a little confused but the majority of the information has been known by most of the world for forty years now. It is still a mystery so no-one has the real answer. The final idea in what was a relatively balanced program is that Oswald had the ability to kill Kennedy, and acted alone. Personally, I do not believe that. However, in this program evidence from both sides was given, but, in my opinion, ignored at its conclusion. However, most programs with a point to make tend to do that. This one is just a counter to those who believe that there was a conspiracy (that is, more that one person was involved in the assassination). I tend to 'believe' more than one person was involved (in fact, I am convinced) but there is as much evidence one way or the other.
It is interesting how this topic stirs up antagonistic reactions.
Oliver Stone is in this program for less that 5 minutes and seems to have caused a reaction far exceeding his influence here.
However, the program could have been more interesting and enlightening to watch if it was not drowned in noise. The background `music' obliterated most of the dialogue and totally distracted the viewer from actually listening to the arguments posed - I had to strain to listen to the dialogue most of the time. At one stage, a scene which represented someone on a truth drug seemed to imply the producers were on it as well - such was its strangeness.
This program could have been edifying but was totally spoilt by the production and background sound effects which were appalling. Why producers seemed to think they are needed I have no idea.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Ignores its own evidence
This film about the Kennedy asssasination starts out well but fails to live up to its promise. The second half of the film seems to ignore the evidence discussed in the first... Read more
Published 8 months ago by J W Clark
3.0 out of 5 stars An odd but interesting take
"Oswald's Ghost" is about the conspiracy theories that arose around the Kennedy assassination, but it doesn't really go into any of those theories in great depth. Read more
Published 9 months ago by K. Gordon
1.0 out of 5 stars Is this a comedy?
My friends and I put this on and laughed non-stop. One of the last feeble attempts by the government (PBS?- NOT A COINCIDENCE) to maintain lone assassin fable. Read more
Published on May 9, 2011 by Lord Buckley
5.0 out of 5 stars I think some reviewers here missed the point
This is not supposed to be another film about WHO killed President Kennedy. It is, as the description above states, a film about how America has searched for answers as to what... Read more
Published on September 16, 2009 by smuthdude
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Rises above the mindless conspiracy whackjob theories, to present the subject matter for what it is - a tragedy that continues to scar the national psyche. Brilliant.
Published on December 4, 2008 by Law Student
2.0 out of 5 stars The lone-nut theory rides again
Norman Mailer and Priscilla McMillan are the big guns brought out one more time to sell the public the lone-gunman theory of the JFK assassination; complete with magic bullet.
Published on November 21, 2008 by Paul Trejo
5.0 out of 5 stars It is what it is
Great stuff. Oswald was alone and did it. We Americans JUST don't want to believe it.
Published on November 19, 2008 by vassel
4.0 out of 5 stars JFK and Princess Diana-The Death of Youthful Idols Is Never Simple
"Oswald's Ghost" combines fascinating new archival footage with a different and unique approach to the JFK assassination. Read more
Published on August 5, 2008 by Choice Critic
1.0 out of 5 stars Biased Movie!
Oswald Ghost is a carbon copy of the WC.There is absolutely nothing new it has to offer except the same old Regurgitated story that ''Oswald did it and did it alone''! Read more
Published on January 26, 2008 by Armand Herpe
1.0 out of 5 stars Biased film PBS Should be ashamed to have included it within the...
I was very disappointed that this film was shown within the American Experience films which I've always regarded as a fine program of historical value. Read more
Published on January 26, 2008 by D. A. Williams
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Topic From this Discussion
First impressions of the film
Thanks for the post, Patrick. You seem to confirm my suspiscions (raised by the film, the DVD interview with Stone, and his interview in American Hsitory magazine) that Stone just choose to take the lone nut conclusion and ignore or ridicule everything else out there. As a film, Oswlad's Ghost is... Read More
Feb 16, 2008 by Matthew Kresal |  See all 5 posts
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