The Zapruder film: reframing JFK's assassination

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University Press of Kansas, 2003 - History - 368 pages
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It is the most famous home movie of all time, the most closely analyzed 26 seconds of film ever shot, the most disturbing visual record of what many have called "the crime of the century." In 486 frames--a mere six feet of celluloid--Abraham Zapruder's iconic film captures from beginning to end the murder of President John F. Kennedy in broad daylight. The film has become nearly synonymous with the assassination itself and has generated decades of debate among conspiracy theorists and defenders of the Warren Commission's official report. Until now, however, no scholar has produced a comprehensive book-length study of the film and its relation to the tragic events of November 22, 1963. David Wrone, one of our nation's foremost authorities on the assassination, re-examines Zapruder's film with a fresh eye and a deep knowledge of the forensic evidence. He traces the film's forty-year history from its creation on the "grassy knoll" by Dallas dressmaker Zapruder through it initial sale to "Life magazine, analysis by the Warren Commission and countless assassination researchers, licensing by the Zapruder family, legal battles over bootleg copies, and sale to the federal government for sixteen million dollars. Wrone's major contribution, however, is to demonstrate how the film itself necessarily refutes the Warren Commission's lone-gunman and single-bullet theories . The film, he notes, provides a scientifically precise timeline of events, as well as crucial clues regarding the timing, number, origins, and impact of the shots fired that day. Analyzing it frame-by-frame in relation to other evidence--including two key photos by-frame in relation to other evidence--including two key photos byPhil Willis and Ike Altgens--he builds a convincing case against the official findings. Without fanfare, he concludes that more than one direction and that most likely none were fired by alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. If true, then JFK's death was the result of a conspiracy conclusion requires a maximum of three shots and one gunman. Wrone, however, does not speculate as to who actually shot JFK or why--or even if Oswald was involved. In fact, he is just as critical of the legion of conspiracy theorists as he is of the Warren Commission (which, he reveals, crushed dissent within its own ranks). Doggedly pursuing the evidence wherever it leads, Wrone has produced a meticulous, clear-eyed, and provocative new reading of this remarkable cinematic Rosetta Stone.

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Contents

Development and Sale of the Film
21
The Film
38
The Film and Private Ownership of American History
51
Copyright

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About the author (2003)

David R. Wrone is professor emeritus of history at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.