Camelot Revisited

It’s a marvelous thing when fiction, even historical fiction, is trumped by actual factual history. Oliver Stone’s JFK, you’ll recall, hysterically portrayed the murder of our 35th president as the work of an axis of evil frustrated by Kennedy’s resistance to ratcheting up the mayhem in Vietnam. (LBJ proved much more amenable.) Now comes Koji Masutani’s invaluable Virtual JFK: Vietnam If Kennedy Had Lived, pointing us to the same conclusion with a calm, straightforward analysis of the fraught period 1961 to ’63, revealed by historian and on-camera narrator James G. Blight. That’s not the primary thrust of VJFK, admittedly, which is more of a straight documentary culled from press conferences and White House audiotapes than the speculative history promised by the title. The film etches a fresh portrait of JFK to make a simple yet profound point: Some chief execs wage wars of choice — like Vietnam, like Iraq — and others avoid them. That may explain why a majority of Americans roundly rejected would-be President John McCain. Producer Peter O. Almond appears after the March 21 evening screenings, fielding questions about nuclear threats and grassy knolls.
March 20-24, 2009

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