Parkland DVD Review

What’s It About? Parkland takes a look at the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and puts all the conspiracy theories to one side in order to focus on how the events affected the lives of the ordinary people caught up in this historic tragedy.

Verdict: Most people know a fair amount about the assassination of JFK; we’ve seen the infamous home video, watched at least one documentary and most likely have our own theory about why the beloved President was killed.

But it’s safe to say that most of us aren’t quite as aware of events as they happened through the eyes of the young doctors and nurses attempting to keep JFK alive after he was shot. Or the secret service officers who had to call on their training for an event they’d never experienced before. And let’s not forget the poor man who caught it all on tape!

Based on the novel, Four Days In November by Vincent Bugliosi, the film starts immediately as President Kennedy arrives in Dallas with the usual amount of excitement and fanfare. We are introduced to Zac Efron’s young doctor, who was on call in the trauma department that day after winning a coin toss with a sleep-deprived colleague.

Then we meet Abraham Zapruder (Paul Giamatti) who is excitedly preparing to use his swanky new camera to film the President from a prime location. It was a nice, normal day in which the Texans are excited to have the Kennedys grace their presence. As JFK is shot, we begin our journey seeing the event through the eyes of the secondary characters.

With writer/director Peter Landesman having vast experience as a journalist, the film is extremely focused on details. This is a historical drama that is keen to present us with the facts and create a near identical replica of what happened on those fateful days.

From the secret service arguing over what to do with Jackie Kennedy and the moment we met Lee Harvey Oswald’s bewildered brother, to the scene where Jackie hands a nurse a handful of her husband’s skull and brain matter, we are taken along on the surreal journey that they all went through and almost feel like we are witnessing the story for the first time all over again.

An interesting theme the film explores is how much each group clearly felt they were in some way to blame for JFK’s death. We watch the medical staff struggle to handle the events that have occurred in their trauma room, the police officers torturing themselves over the fact Oswald was on their watch list and even the secret service looking to each other for some sort of explanation of how things went so wrong.

You can’t help but wonder how the scene would play out in this day and age. Would the owner of such prized footage even bother to try and ensure that the world didn’t see JFK’s brains blown out? Or would they instantly think about selling it for an even higher price?

It’s such an ironic twist of fate that the same medical team who fought to keep JFK alive, then found themselves trying to save the life of Oswald when Jack Ruby shot him. Landesman does his best to ensure that the audience get a sense of how conflicted they must have felt at the time.

While Parkland doesn’t comment on any conspiracy theories, it suggests that JFK’s death was caused by a mix of mistakes made by the FBI and one man’s ill will.

Some of the most hard-hitting scenes come from watching the Oswald family, as we are reminded things are horrifying for the innocent family members who get caught up in the fallout through no fault of their own.

Jacki Weaver is simply marvellous as Oswald’s incredibly bewildering mother, but the strongest performance comes from Paul Giamatti as the dazed and distraught Abraham Zapruder.

Final Words: A detailed reconstruction which reminds us just how horrific those three days were for the many people thrust into a truly terrible moment in history. A strong ensemble cast helps to shed light on previously untold stories and makes us truly appreciate all the events that transpired at Dallas’ Parkland Memorial Hospital.

Parkland is available on available on iTunes and Amazon UK and on DVD & Blu-Ray now.