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No closed case for JFK

Released 60 years after John Kennedy’s assassination, the documentary JFK: What the Doctors Saw takes its perspective from seven medical professionals on hand when the president arrived with wounds to his head. “Case closed?” asks one. The existence of this kind of documentary after six decades answers that question. Jumping right into the controversy, the doctors say wounds they witnessed appeared to come from the front rather than a single bullet from the back. Director Barbara Shearer, whose other projects focus on such juicy characters as Prince Harry, includes titillating and shocking material like the famous film footage of a bullet hitting Kennedy’s head, along with repeated stills from the autopsy room. While this leads to an uncomfortable, ghoulish sense, the material proves relevant to the doctors’ descriptions. Other filmmakers like Oliver Stone in his star-studded JFK feature film and Peter Landesman in 2013’s Parkland use the same material, to similar effect. New ground comes from Shearer’s interviews from the men in the room with Kennedy during his last moments. Special effects such as comput

er-generated reconstructions, along with extensive use of archival footage add to visuals and extend the documentary to feature film length. Unlike some previous projects, Shearer leaves out most “whodunnit” theories, instead running with one basic point—that the so called single “magic bullet” described by the assassinations’ official inquiry makes a strange and questionable truth. JFK: What the Doctors Saw offers no new answers, instead standing as yet another chapter in a case that refuses to close.

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