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JFK: The Director's Cut

It doesn't pay to watch Oliver Stone's JFK as an historical document — it needs to be viewed as a Boy's Own Adventure, with Kevin Costner as a simple, heroic figure out to slay dragons. JFK is about New Orleans DA Jim Garrison's interpretation of the Kennedy assassination. Using Garrison's quest for information as the spine of the story, the film ranges widely over American political history since the post war era. From the outside Garrison's case looks absurd; Stone takes it seriously and attempts to lay down an alternative history of American since 1945. Say what you will about the content, the form of the film is revolutionary. Stone's jackrabbit approach changed the way he made movies, and it was born of his grappling with the task of putting so much information and so many images into a small space. Re-released by Warner as part of their Oliver Stone Collection, this is the director's cut version of the movie with expanded supplements. There are two major additions to this disc, the first a commentary by Stone. He is, as usual, informed, detail-oriented, expansive, and gives a lot of background to some of the claims his film makes. He also shows a warm delight in Joe Pesci's performance. The second addition is 54 minutes worth of deleted or expanded scenes, 12 in all. They come with Stone's optional commentary, and are in 2.35:1. Among them are, most controversially, a sequence in which Oswald appears, from beyond the grave, at the Shaw trial, to testify to his innocence. All the scenes are of interest. Also on Disc Two are two "multi-media essays": "Meet Mr. X: The Personality and Thoughts of Fletcher Prouty," and "Assassination Update: The New Documents" with author James DiEugenio. Disc One of this single-sided, dual-layered set offers a mostly pristine anamorphic transfer of the 2.35:1 image (although occasionally, the transfer has a hard time with Garrison's seersucker suits). The box indicates that the soundtrack has been remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1, but the previous disc was also in 5.1; this one has a French 5.1 audio track as well. Subtitles come in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese, with closed-captioning in English. DVD-ROM features inlcude web-links to various websites, the collected reviews of the film, and other Stone movie trailers. Cast and crew talent and awards files. Snap-case.
—D.K. Holm

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