In 1991, Oliver Stone’s generally well-received JFK reopened the public door to the darkest corners of our neurosis on the eponymous president’s death. Through the course of the movie, main character Jim Garrison – played by Kevin Costner before he walked off the deep end – is gradually consumed by the murder conspiracies that continue to dart in and out of the mist.
He’s never quite able to grab hold of them. In his final speech to jurors, Garrison famously asserts that the conspiracy burns up the wick to the head of the candle, to the White House and the Pentagon. Despite Garrison’s relatively coherent arguments to this point – suspicions around the autopsy, ballistic inconsistencies – the courthouse gasps. Some chuckle incredulously.
It’s such a fantastical leap to get from where he was to where he finished. Despite the fact that he might’ve been exploring in the right neighborhood, he never built a bridge to that idea. We couldn’t follow him. The mere idea that Lyndon Johnson was somehow implicated? That triggered the public conspiracy catch, and now you’re gone. He’s lost you.