Parkland: A Well Done Historical Drama

Tessa Roy ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff

The assassination of President John F. Kennedy will forever be remembered as one of the saddest and most frightening events of the 1960’s. There was shock, confusion, floods of emotions, and many pressing questions. Needless to say, director Peter Landesman had quite a bit on his plate when he took on Parkland, a film based on the happenings that occurred after President Kennedy’s tragic death. With such heavy subject matter,Landesman needed to work hard to make a product that would do justice to the historic event.
Thankfully, Parkland, which is named for the hospital President Kennedy was taken to after being shot, does in fact deliver, all thanks to its talented cast. Marcia Gay Harden, Paul Giamatti, and Zac Efron are flawless, capturing an exhaustive emotional spectrum. Giamatti offers the best performance by far as the troubled Abraham Zapruder, the man who became doomed to live a traumatized life after accidentally catching the assassination on film.
Marcia Gay Harden, Zac Efron and Aidan Sullivan in "Parkland." Photo Credit: Claire Folger.
Marcia Gay Harden, Zac Efron and Aidan Sullivan in “Parkland.” Photo Credit: Claire Folger.
Another high point of Parkland is its treatment of President and Mrs. Kennedy. The two are not made characters in the film, as the faces of the actors (Brett Stimely and Kat Steffens) who play them are not seen on camera. Stimely and Steffens are simply there for physical representation. The real footage taken by Abraham Zapruder of the assassination is used in lieu of a reenactment. This technique gives Parkland a more authentic feel, and doesn’t risk undermining a significant historical tragedy with a botched replication.
The weakness of Parkland is its ending. It finishes with assassin Lee Harvey Oswald’s lackluster funeral taking place at the same time as President Kennedy’s highly attended and ornate funeral. The juxtaposition of the two is interesting, but the film seems to just cut off unexpectedly in a jarring and confusing manner. The viewer expects something more to happen, but it never does.
Parkland is in theaters now. It’s worthwhile to watch, especially if history is your thing.
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