Two years ago today, we posted a short film by Errol Morris for The New York Times' op-docs page on the JFK assassination. That one (watch it here) focused on an infamously suspicious figure known as "Umbrella Man," called such because of he was holding an open umbrella in Dealey Plaza at the moment the president was shot. And the six-minute short mainly consisted of an interview with Josiah "Tink" Thompson, a scholar on the incident and author of the 1967 book Six Seconds in Dallas and an upcoming sequel called Last Second in Dallas.
Morris' interview with Thompson actually lasted eight hours, so it's natural that another op-doc short film has come out of the material. This one, posted to commemorate today's 50th anniversary of the assassination, is 13 minutes long and titled November 22, 1963. The focus here is a little broader, more plain: photographic and cinematographic evidence of what happened, which Thompson points out was initially just of interest to the media, and not as investigative evidence so much as straight record.
We see bits of these films and Polaroid photos, including some of the Zapruder footage, of course. And like many of Morris' films, what Thompson discusses in relation to the evidence is all about perception, perspective and ways of seeing. In Umbrella Man, Thompson dismisses theories about that figure, almost seeming to suggest that he disagrees with any conspiracy theories at all. But in this one he doesn't deny the possiblity, only that we don't have the evidence to show it and therefore may never know for sure. As he states, we're really no closer to knowing what happened now than we were 45 years ago.
Watch the short below and read Morris' accompanying New York Times essay behind the film here.
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