Oswald's Ghost is the rare film whose power increases with distance. As I sat in the historic Texas Theatre last week, where Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested on the day President Kennedy was assassinated, and watched a special screening of the documentary, the suggestive rhythm of the editing and the understated urgency of the musical accompaniment lulled me into a false sense of security. I was deceived into thinking that I knew what kind of film it was and so, based on that assumption, I allowed the shaped narrative to lead me down a certain path, only to discover at the end that I had arrived at a very different destination than I expected.
Filmmaker Robert Stone says that he was initially inspired by the furor that erupted after the release of Oliver Stone's JFK in 1991. Why were people so wrapped up emotionally in what had happened so many years before? How had that pivotal event changed the nation? Ten years later, he saw parallels in how the nation responded to 9/11 and started what he calls his own "journey" to discover why America has remained obsessed with the JFK assassination, to the point that he calls it a "theology."
That being said, Stone does not take the approach I had anticipated. After an opening fusillade of opinions issued by experts, he dives right into the events leading up to November 22, 1963, laying them out one by one in distinct, logical order as though he had an organized sheaf of papers he was slapping down on a table. The drama is inherently captivating; no matter how many times you've seen news footage and photographs from the days in question, it still feels like you're dragged against your will into a nightmare.