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'Nova' and 'JFK'

February 29, 1992

It is interesting that Howard Rosenberg points to the "Nova" documentary as the sane alternative to my film "JFK" in his Feb. 7 column ("A Ratings Conspiracy"), but, in praising it as "meticulously fair," he ignores the ridiculous premise of the "Nova" film.

Take, for example, the "Nova" re-creation of the fatal head shot to President Kennedy: Placing a loose skull atop a platform, they shoot it from above and behind at a point where the skull and platform meet. Fragments flew all over but the largest piece flew up and back. This supposedly proves that the shot came from the Book Depository. What they don't mention is that a flesh-and-blood head attached to a body in a moving vehicle reacts nothing like a skull casually placed on a podium. A nice demonstration, but it proves nothing.

Equally preposterous is the program's claim that Oswald got off three shots in under six seconds, an endorsement of the magic bullet theory. Had the program's producers researched the actual "science" of this improbable feat (by, say, reading Josiah Thompson's "Six Seconds in Dallas," an excellent exploration of the marksmanship required to accomplish this), they might not have championed this approach with blind enthusiasm.

Although "Nova" uses physical evidence to investigate the claims against the Warren Commission, it is evident from re-enactments such as the one mentioned above that theirs was an insufficient investigation. "Nova" shouldn't pretend to be a fair and thorough examination of the facts. The program adopts the lone assassin/single-bullet theory, a position lent substantial authority through Walter Cronkite's narration.

"Nova" doesn't go nearly far enough in its exploration of arguments opposing the Warren Report, which should leave critical viewers to wonder why they weren't presented all the evidence.

OLIVER STONE

Santa Monica

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