The assassination of US President John F. Kennedy is a tragic event that has captured the minds of the public – and the fevered imaginations of the conspiracy theorists – ever since it occurred in November 1963. “The man on the grassy knoll”, “the magic bullet”, “back and to the left”; these are phrases that have become ingrained in society’s lexicon as we try to unravel what really happened that day. Was Lee Harvey Oswald just a patsy? Why was Jack Ruby killed? And how did the lizard-people get away in their flying saucer without anybody seeing?
Okay, so maybe that last one is just Darryn’s question, but there are still plenty of mysteries surrounding this tale. And one thing that was central to the whole affair was Parkland Hospital, but its story has never really been told on screen. Until now. Writer-director Peter Landesman’s has assembled together quite the cast to tell the tell of the Texas hospital where the paths of so many of the principal players in those tragic events crossed (JFK, Oswald and Ruby were all brought there, and all passed away there). And now we have our first look at these players, thanks to these newly released images and poster for the film.
Recounting the chaotic events that occurred in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963, Parklandweaves together the perspectives of a handful of ordinary individuals suddenly thrust into extraordinary circumstances: the young doctors and nurses at Parkland Hospital; Dallas’ chief of the Secret Service; an unwitting cameraman who captured what became the most watched and examined film in history; the FBI agents who nearly had the gunman within their grasp; the brother of Lee Harvey Oswald, left to deal with his shattered family; and JFK’s security team, witnesses to both the president’s death and Vice President Lyndon Johnson’s rise to power over a nation whose innocence was forever altered.
Possibly the most famous cinematic vision of the Kennedy assassination has to be Oliver Stone’s JFK, but as utterly enthralling as that film is, it’s also not exactly accurate with Stone taking several dramatic licences. Parkland will be different, according to what Landesman told USAToday, saying that this will be much smaller in scope and be “a movie about the ground truth from the ground level.”
“What surprised me was the power and poignancy of those who survived that day and the three that followed — the heroism, the instincts and the pathos of those swept up in this tsunami. This is an event that happened to individuals.”
Landesman continues that some of those individuals, like the medical staff at Parklands Hospital portrayed in this case by Zac Efron and Marcia Gay Harden among others, were not “prepared for what was coming. They thought the president had the flu.”
One of person who definitely knew it was more than the flu was Forest Sorrels, the head of the Dallas Secret Service office, who was severely affected by losing the President on his watch. Billy Bob Thornton, who plays Sorrels, explained how hard he was hit.
“The Secret Service had never lost a man, and [then] they lost THEIR man. He felt bound and determined to find out what happened immediately while he was going through the worst time in his life. He felt completely responsible.”
And it’s that look at the emotional and human fallout, rather than trying to piece together conspiracy theories that sets Parkland apart from the crowd, as Landesman explains.
“That’s not what this film is about. No one is putting together any kind of puzzle here. They’re just surviving. But the film will open up a new avenue of debate. And a healthy one.”
Parkland opens in the US on September 20 and stars Zac Efron, Marcia Gay Harden, Billy Bob Thornton, Jacki Weaver, Paul Giamatti, James Badge Dale, Jackie Earle Haley, Colin Hanks, David Harbour, Ron Livingston, Jeremy Strong and Tom Welling.
Update: We’ve got an updated poster in the gallery from Exclusive Media. And since they asked nicely, instead of threatening us with a lawsuit like all the other PR studios do lately, we were happy to add it in.
Last Updated: August 13, 2013