JFK: A Fresh Perspective (2013)

14 Mar


Produced to commemorate the  50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination, Susan Bellows’ JFK: A Fresh Perspective sets out to shed new light on arguably one of America’s greatest presidents. Tracing his days from a sickly youth through to his entry into politics and his eventual term as president, JFK chronicles the pivotal moments in Kennedy’s private and political life.

Key points such as the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the U.S Civil Rights movement, and intervention in Vietnam illustrate the momentous events which populated Kennedy’s thousand day presidency and are covered in a fairly objective manner. JFK does expose some of Kennedy’s limitations as a politician, most notably his misplaced trust in so-called experts, his uncertainty in dealing with civil rights issues and his initial confrontations with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, although it should be noted that Kennedy’s deft handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis is perhaps his most enduring legacy. Kennedy’s notorious womanising, his relationship with his wife and his over-bearing father are all touched on, but it is his presidency that is the real centre of the documentary.

So does the documentary succeed in its aim to provide a “fresh look” at JFK? Well yes and no. For those more familiar with the finer details of Kennedy’s presidency JFK perhaps offers little in the way of new information. Certainly for this reviewer the documentary provided some interesting insights into Kennedy’s early political career and the archival footage of Kennedy’s run in the U.S primaries was a highlight. However, for those viewers unacquainted with Kennedy JFK strips away the mythology and provides a relatively unbiased picture of one of the most tumultuous periods in American history.

For those with an interest in the U.S or Cold War era politics JFK provides a good primer for study. Recommended.


By Roger Beatson


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