Sixty years ago, President John F. Kennedy rode through the streets of Dallas in an open limousine until two bullets from Lee Harvey Oswald fatally struck him. National Geographic recreates that dark day in American history with “JFK: One Day in America,” a three-part documentary from the makers of the Emmy-winning “9/11: One Day in America.”
CHARLOTTE RODRIGUES (producer) «JFK: those three iconic letters tell a story whose tragic ending everyone knows. The murder of John F Kennedy On November 22, 1963, a shock wave swept not only America, but the entire world. However, there are fewer and fewer people who consciously experienced the terrible attack at the time. We wanted to capture the memories of the last eyewitnesses before they too disappear.”
HUMO ‘I am 91 years old. I’m one of the last,” says Clint Hill. He is the security guard who immediately threw himself at Jacqueline Kennedy after the gunshots.
RODRIGUES “We were worried in advance: it has been sixty years ago, how much will our witnesses remember from that day? A lot, as it turned out. Clint talked about it like it was yesterday. That day, of course, scarred him. Everyone praised him for his courage, but he felt he had not done enough. He told us that he should have taken those bullets instead of the president.
»We also speak to a secret agent Paul Landislocal agent ‘Rusty’ Robbinsa colleague of Oswald and some news reporters from the time, as well as an average family hoping to catch a glimpse of the president that day. Most interviews lasted six to seven hours, because they had a lot to get off their chest.”
HUMO You are reconstructing November 22, 1963 down to the last detail with archive images, just as you previously did with 9/11. The conspiracy theories – there were two shooters, commissioned by the CIA, the mafia, or no: the Cubans! – ignore it.
RODRIGUES “Beats. There is no shortage of documentaries about alleged perpetrators, but we are not trying to crack the mystery. We aim for an intimate and compelling account of a fateful day.”
HUMO Spectator Abraham Zapruder was just filming when Kennedy was shot dead, resulting in one of the most famous home videos of all time. How do you show the assessment?
RODRIGUES “These are confronting images, we are aware of that. At the same time, we do not want to conceal the murder. We have removed the most tasteless frames from the video, but we will still show it.»
HUMO ‘People die, nations come and go, but ideas endure,’ said John F. Kennedy a few months before his death. What made him such an iconic president?
RODRIGUES “He was different from the presidents before or after him. With his speeches and progressive political goals, he promised a new dawn for America: that resonated with the younger generation. He was also handsome, just like his wife Jackie. And he wanted to be close to the people, which explains why he crossed Dallas in an open limousine: he must have known the risks. It was shocking that he, such a charismatic and vital president, was murdered. We will never know what else he could have accomplished.”
‘JFK: One Day in America’
National Geographic, Sunday November 5, 8:30 PM