History Podcasts

Zapruder Film

Zapruder Film

Eddie Barker: Abraham Zapruder, whose film of the assassination was studied at length on last night's program, was standing up on this little wall right at the edge of the grassy knoll. Now, shots from behind that picket fence over there would have almost had to whistle by his ear. Mr. Zapruder, when we interviewed him here, tended to agree that the knoll was not involved.

Abraham Zapruder: I'm not a ballistics expert, but I believe that if there were shots that come from my right ear, I would hear a different sound. I heard shots coming from - I wouldn't know which direction to say-but they was driven from the Texas Book Depository and they all sounded alike. There was no difference in sound at all.

The following may be of interest to those who would seek a glimpse at the beginning, even though it tends to raise questions about the only piece of evidence that we know is real, intact, unaltered, and 100% without blemish. Qualities that are curiously absent from the character of the one who filmed it...


Abraham Zapruder-White Russian affiliation, 32nd degree Mason, active MEMBER of 2 CIA Proprietary Organizations: The Dallas Council On World Affairs and The Crusade For A Free Europe;

These two organizations were CIA (backed) Domestic Operations in Dallas whose membership included:

Abraham Zapruder, Clint Murchison (owner of the Dallas Cowboys at that time) , Mr. Byrd, (owner of the Texas School Book Depository), Sarah Hughes, who swore LBJ in as the 36th President while Air Force One was still on the ground in Dallas, George DeMohrenschildt, (CIA contract agent AND best friend of LHO), George Bush (also close friend of George DeMohrenschildt), Neil Mallon, (mentor that Bush named his son, Neil, after), H.L. Hunt, & Demitri Von Mohrenschildt (George D's brother).

In 1953 and 1954 a woman named, Jeanne LeGon worked SIDE by SIDE with Abraham Zapruder at a high end clothing design firm called, Nardis of Dallas. Jeanne LeGon designed the clothing and Abraham Zapruder cut the patterns and the material for her.

Incidentally, Abraham Zapruder's obituary mis-states the date/year that he departed Nardis of Dallas, incorrectly citing 1949. The correct year was 1959, [the same year that his "partner in design" Jeanne LeGon became known as, Jean LeGon DeMohrenschildt... She had married Lee Oswald's BEST FRIEND (to be), CIA Contract Agent, George DeMohrenschildt!].

I didn't have my camera but my secretary asked me why I don't have it and I told her I wouldn't have a chance even to see the President and somehow she urged me and I went home and got my camera and came back and first I thought I might take pictures from the window because my building is right next to the building where the alleged assassin was, and it's just across 501 Elm Street, but I figured - I may go down and get better pictures, and I walked down. I believe it was Elm Street and on down to the lower part, closer to the underpass and I was trying to pick a space from where to take those pictures and I tried one place and it was on a narrow ledge and I couldn't balance myself very much. I tried another place and that had some obstruction of signs or whatever it was there and finally I found a place farther down near the underpass that was a square of concrete I don't know what you call it maybe about 4 feet high.

After the first shot - I saw him leaning over and after the second shot - it's possible after what I saw, you know, then I started yelling, "They killed him, they killed him," and I just felt that somebody had ganged up on him and I was still shooting the pictures until he got under the underpass - I don't even know how I did it. And then, I didn't even remember how I got down from that abutment there, but there I was, I guess, and I was walking toward - back toward my office and screaming, "They killed him, they killed him," and the people that I met on the way didn't even know what happened and they kept yelling, "What happened, what happened, what happened?" It seemed that they had heard a shot but they didn't know exactly what had happened as the car sped away, and I kept on just yelling, "They killed him, they killed him, they killed him," and finally got to my office and my secretary - I told her to call the police or the Secret Service - I don't know what she was doing, and that's about all. I was very much upset. Naturally, I couldn't imagine such a thing being done. I just went to my desk and stopped there until the police came and then we were required to get a place to develop the films. I knew I had something, I figured it might be of some help - I didn't know what.

Mr. LIEBELER - I understand that you took some motion pictures at the time assassination?

Mr. ZAPRUDER - That's correct..

Mr. LIEBELER - As you stood there on this abutment with your camera, the motorcade came down Houston Street and turned left on Elm Street, did it not?

Mr. ZAPRUDER - That's right.

Mr. LIEBELER - And it proceeded then down Elm Street toward the triple underpass; is that correct?

Mr. ZAPRUDER - That's correct. I started shooting - when the motorcade started coming in, I believe I started and wanted to get it coming in from Houston Street.

Mr. LIEBELER - Tell us what happened as you took these pictures.

Mr. ZAPRUDER - Well, as the car came in line almost - I believe it was almost in line. I was standing up here and I was shooting through a telephoto lens, which is a zoom lens and as it reached about - I imagine it was around here - I heard the first shot and I saw the President lean over and grab himself like this (holding his left chest area).

Mr. LIEBELER - Grab himself on the front of his chest?

Mr. ZAPRUDER - Right - something like that. In other words, he was sitting like this and waving and then after the shot he just went like that.

Mr. LIEBELER - He was sitting upright in the car and you heard the shot and you saw the President slump over?

Mr. ZAPRUDER - Leaning - leaning toward the side of Jacqueline. For a moment I thought it was, you know, like you say, "Oh, he got me," when you hear a shot - you've heard these expressions and then I saw - I don't believe the President is going to make jokes like this, but before I had a chance to organize my mind, I heard a second shot and then I saw his head opened up and the blood and everything came out and I started - I can hardly talk about it [the witness crying].

Mr. LIEBELER - That's all right, Mr. Zapruder, would you like a drink of water? Why don't you step out and have a drink of water?

Mr. ZAPRUDER - I'm sorry - I'm ashamed of myself really, but I couldn't help it.

Mr. LIEBELER - Nobody should ever be ashamed of feeling that way, Mr. Zapruder. I feel the same way myself. It was a terrible thing. Let me go back now for just a moment and ask you how many shots you heard altogether.

Mr. ZAPRUDER - I thought I heard two, it could be three, because to my estimation I thought he was hit on the second - I really don't know. The whole thing that has been transpiring - it was very upsetting and as you see I got a little better all the time and this came up again and it to me looked like the second shot, but I don't know. I never even heard a third shot.

Mr. LIEBELER - You didn't hear any shot after you saw him hit?

Mr. ZAPRUDER - I heard the second - after the first shot - I saw him leaning over and after the second shot - it's possible after what I saw, you know, then I started yelling, "They killed him, they killed him," and I just felt that somebody had ganged up on him and I was still shooting the pictures until he got under the underpass - I don't even know how I did it. LIEBELER - Now, I understand that you, yourself, retained the original film?

Mr. ZAPRUDER - No; I don't have that at all - I don't have any at all. They were sold to Time and Life magazines.

Mr. LIEBELER - You sold that to Life magazine?


Mr. LIEBELER - The Commission is interested in one aspect of this and I would like to ask you if you would mind telling us how much they paid you for that film.

Mr. ZAPRUDER - For the film?


Mr. ZAPRUDER - Well, I just wonder whether I should answer it or not because it involves a lot of things and it's not one price - it's a question of how they are going to use it, are they going to use it or are they not going to use it, so I will say I really don't know how to answer that.

Mr. LIEBELER - Well, I am not going to even urge you to answer the question. We will ask it and if you would rather not answer it - the Commission feels it would be helpful.

Mr. ZAPRUDER - I received $25,000, as you know, and I have given that to the Firemen's and Policemen's Benevolence with a suggestion for Mrs. Tippit. You know that?

Mr. LIEBELER - I don't know that - you received $25,000?

Mr. ZAPRUDER - $25,000 was paid and I have given it to the Firemen's and Policemen's Fund.

Mr. LIEBELER - You gave the whole $25,000?

Mr. ZAPRUDER - Yes. This was all over the world. I got letters from all over the world and newspapers - I mean letters from all over the world. It was all over the world - I am surprised--that you don't know it--I don't like to talk about it too much.

Mr. LIEBELER - We appreciate your answer very much.

Mr. ZAPRUDER - I haven't done anything, the way I have given it, at a time like this.

Mr. LIEBELER - I want to tell you, you may not be aware of it yourself, but I want to tell you that your film has been one of the most helpful things to the work of the Commission that we could possibly have had because it has enabled us to study the various positions of the people in the car and to determine by comparing it with the reenactment--by comparing it to the view from the window of the building, to develop with a fair degree of accuracy the facts here.

Donald Purdy: What is it about the normal paths of bullets which leads you to the conclusion that these diagrams illustrating the photographs, permit you to conclude that the bullet did not pass through both men?

Cyril Wecht: The inescapable fact that unless a bullet, especially one fired from a high speed weapon, reasonably high speed, approximately 2,000 feet per second muzzle velocity - unless it strikes something of firm substance, such as bone or something else, that that bullet will travel in a straight line.

Donald Purdy: Mr. Chairman, I would ask at this time that the item marked JFK exhibit F-245, which is a blowup of frame 230 of the Zapruder film, be entered into the record... Dr. Wecht, in your opinion, could Governor Connally have incurred the damage to his wrist which is described in the medical reports and still be holding the hat as shown in this photograph?

Cyril Wecht: No; absolutely not. In F-245, which is a blowup of Zapruder frame 230, we are told under the single bullet theory that Gov. John Connally, for a period of approximately one and a half seconds, has already been shot through the right chest with the right lung pierced and collapsed, through the right wrist, with the distal end of the radius comminuted and the radial nerve partially severed. I heard some vague reference to a nerve in the prior testimony, but I didn't hear the followthrough discussion that I was waiting for about nerve damage. There was nerve damage, yes, to the radial nerve. And the thumb which holds this large Texas white Stetson that is required for it to be in apposition with the index or index and middle fingers to hold that hat is innervated by the radial nerve. Note in F-245 that the hat is still being held and Governor Connally is not reacting. This is again a very alert individual, under a very special circumstance, and I do not believe or accept for one moment the story that we must accept under the single bullet theory that this gentlemen, at this point, one and a half seconds previously, has already been shot through his chest, through his wrist, and into his left thigh.

Donald Purdy: Dr. Wecht, is it your opinion based on this exhibit, JFK exhibit F-245, that Governor Connally is not yet injured in any way?

Cyril Wecht: Yes; that is my opinion.

Donald Purdy: Dr. Wecht, Is it possible that he had been injured prior to this frame but has not yet manifested a reaction?

Cyril Wecht: NO; I do not believe so, not given the nature and extents of his wounds, the multiplicity and the areas damaged, I do not believe that.

Donald Purdy: Dr. Wecht, given the nature of his wounds, how much prior to the time that he manifests a reaction is the earliest he could have been struck?

Cyril Wecht: Well, a fraction of a second, again, an infinitesimal moment. It is possible that a fraction of a second earlier he could have been shot, although I do not believe that. Please keep in mind that now we must correlate that with the Governor's own version, and remembering that this bullet was traveling 2,000 feet per second muzzle velocity, much faster than the speed of sound. Please keep in mind that it does not seem at all likely. I doubt that it is possible that he had already been struck. The panel (of experts assembled by the House Select Committee on Assassinations), to the best of my recollection, was in unanimous agreement that there was a slight upward trajectory the bullet through President John F. Kennedy, that is to say, that the-bullet wound of entrance on the President's back, lined up with the bullet wound of exit in the front of the President's neck drawing a straight line, showed that vertically the bullet had moved slightly upward, slightly, but upward. That is extremely important for two reasons. One, under the single bullet theory - with Oswald as the sole assassin, or anybody else, in the sixth floor window, southeast corner of the Texas School Book Depository Building, you have the bullet coming down at a downward angle of around 20-25 degrees, something like that, maybe a little bit less. It had originally been postulated, I think, by the autopsy team, and the initial investigators, at considerably more. How in the world can a bullet be fired from the sixth floor window, strike the President in the back, and yet have a slightly upward direction? There was nothing there to cause it to change its course. And then with the slightly upward direction, outside the President's neck, that bullet then embarked upon a rollercoaster ride with a major dip, because it then proceeded; under the single bullet theory, through Gov. John Connally at a 25 degree angle of declination. To my knowledge, there has never been any disagreement among the proponents and defenders of the Warren Commission report or the critics, about the angle of declination in John Connally - maybe a degree or two. We have that bullet going through the Governor at about 25 degrees downward. How does a bullet that is moving slightly upward in the President proceed then to move downward 25 degrees in John Connally. This is what I cannot understand. My colleagues on the panel are aware of this. We discussed it, and what we keep coming back to is, "well, don't know how the two men were seated in relationship to each other." I don't care what happened behind the Stemmons freeway sign, there is no way in the world that they can put that together, and likewise on the horizontal plane, the bullet, please keep in mind, entered in the President's right back, I agree, exited in the anterior midline of the President's neck, I agree, and was moving thence by definition, by known facts, on a straight line from entrance to exit, from right to left. And so with that bullet moving in a leftward fashion, it then somehow made an acute angular turn, came back almost two feet, stopped, made a second turn, and slammed into Gov. John Connally behind the right armpit, referred to medically as the right posterior axillary area. The vertical and horizontal trajectory of this bullet, 399, under the single bullet theory is absolutely unfathomable, indefensible, and incredible.

Cyril Wecht: Yes; I believe F-246, which is a blowup of Zapruder frame 237, demonstrates that Gov. John Connally has now been struck.

Donald Purdy: Dr. Wecht, what is it about his movements that leads you to the conclusion that he has been struck?

Cyril Wecht: The body is turning, the cheeks are puffing out, there is a noticeable grimace on his face, in contrast, for instance, to F-245, Z-frame 230, and there seems to be some dishevelment of his hair. These features can be seen very dramatically also one frame later, F-247, or Zapruder frame 238, which I remind you is one eighteenth of a second interval away, and you can see the hair movement, the twisting of the body. There is no question in my mind that the Governor has now been hit.

Donald Purdy: Dr. Wecht, referring again to the JFK exhibits F-229, F-272 and F-244, which are the frames immediately before and the frames after the sign, you discussed the fact that the men did not line up in a horizontal trajectory?

Cyril Wecht: Yes. The panel, to the best of my recollection, was in unanimous agreement that there was a slight upward trajectory the bullet through President John F. The vertical and horizontal trajectory of this bullet, 399, under the single bullet theory is absolutely unfathomable, indefensible, and incredible.

Garment manufacturer Abraham Zapruder was a spectator at Dealey Plaza who captured the entire shooting sequence with his cheap movie camera. Life magazine immediately snapped up the film for an untold sum. Although Life ran several frames in its cover story on the Warren Commission Report, the motion picture itself had never been shown in public. (Not even members of the Commission had seen it.) Now it had surfaced, courtesy of La Bell France.

The Zapruder film is horrifyingly graphic. It shows Kennedy clutching his throat as a shot from the rear goes through his neck. There are agonizing moments as he slowly slumps forward in the limousine. Then his head literally explodes, sending up a blood-mist halo. The force of the hit rocks him back so violently into the rear seat cushion that it is compressed. He bounces forward as Jackie grabs for him. There is no mistaking that he was killed by a shot from the front. Suspect Lee Harvey Oswald was at the rear.

I rushed to Hollywood with the film to have it analyzed by experts. They pronounced it authentic, probably a second or third generation copy. I then understood why Life, which had taken a stand in support of the Warren Report and featured Gerald Ford's rendition of how the no-conspiracy conclusion was arrived at, had kept the film sequestered. In fact an anonymous caption writer at the magazine had described the head-shot frame as a shot from the front, and a number of subscribers received copies with that caption. But the press run was quickly stopped at tremendous expense, and the offending plate broken and replaced by one whose caption was in conformity with the official position.

One of the central premises of Bloody Treason is that the Zapruder film was altered by members of the cabal that murdered President Kennedy, as part of an effort to at least partly conceal the plot and the plotters. This notion has gained increasing credibility in recent years, but I must concede it is an idea that part of me wants to reject outright, because I just don't get it. The Zapruder film as it has been known since the 1970s is convincing evidence of a front shooter and thus a conspiracy. To dwell on alleged alteration strikes me as counterproductive, missing the forest for the trees.

As I understand the overall argument, frames were deleted from the film in order to hide evidence that Kennedy was shot from the front, which of course would destroy the lone nut scenario. The original film was seized by the conspirators and altered using what was, in 1963, sophisticated yet rather commonplace equipment. Traces of the forgery inevitably remained, but were not ferreted out for many years.

There are undeniable problems in the film, such as whether the Presidential limousine came to a stop during the fusillade. In the conventional Z-film it plainly does not, but numerous eyewitnesses gave sworn testimony that it did, or at least that it slowed down (also not observed).

Another issue that Twyman focuses on is the speed with which limousine driver William Greer turns his head at two points in the shooting sequence. According to Twyman, the speed of this head turn is a physical impossibility, and further proof that key frames were deleted from the film. There are filmed recreations of the head turn (no subject could do it the way Greer supposedly did) and discussions of calculations intended to show it couldn't be done.

These may be Twyman's most powerful demonstrations. But at this stage I am still sitting on the fence on the question of film alteration. Suffice it to say that proving the allegation the Zapruder film was tampered with is not a simple task. Respected researchers have staked claims on both sides of the question; this is not an issue that will be resolved any time soon - if ever.

Kennedy was hit in the right temple while Moorman and Jean Hill were visible in the background. JFK's head rotated slightly counterclockwise (i.e., left) - just a tic. A flap of skin or bone swung out on a vertical hinge. The hinge became horizontal and the flap became part of what looked like a giant clam. I never saw the famous "blob" nor did I see clouds of gore. I only saw thin translucent lines intersecting the head that scientists (in fluid dynamics) tell me are most likely condensation lines left in the wake of a bullet. One line suggested the shot came from Zapruder's immediate left. About 1/2 second later JFK went flat across Jackie's lap, not forward but leftward, away from the viewer. JFK then came back up to about where he was before. His head made two nearly imperceptible jerks, a tip to the left, a tip to the right. Then he bucked backward - but there was no head snap. He moved all of a piece, as if given a shove in the sternum.

A strong case can be made for extensive editing of the Zapruder film. In fact, the conclusion seems inescapable - the film was deliberately altered. No other explanation is in the same league, in terms of explanatory power, for the myriad of anomalous characteristics that are seen everywhere in this case. Many frames were excised, some individual frames were extensively altered, others were changed only enough to fill in for missing frames, and others were left alone. Frames that were excised were simply too embarrassing for the official story or contained troublesome edge prints. What is perhaps most remarkable, though, is that, even in the past several years, to say nothing of the past several months, yet more evidence has accumulated - all of it pointing toward alteration. One can only wonder what still remains to be discovered.

A US arbitration panel put a price on the world's most famous home movie yesterday when it agreed to award $16m in compensation to the family of Abraham Zapruder, whose 26-second film of the assassination of President Kennedy has become a national relic. Lawyers for the Zapruder family had been asking for $30m in return for surrendering the film to the national archives, but they called yesterday's ruling "thorough and thoughtful". However, a dissenting member of the three-member arbitration board argued the award was too large for a damaged strip of 8mm celluloid.

Abraham Zapruder, a dress manufacturer, was standing by the route taken by the presidential motorcade through Dallas on November 22, 1963, and was filming the event when the fatal shots rang out. The colour film shows the president grab his chest after the first shot, before his head disintegrates under the force of the second bullet.

Just after the assassination he sold the footage for $150,000 to Time-Life magazine, which published individual frames but did not allow the film to be screened in its entirety. Meanwhile, it became the iconic focus of the ceaseless controversy over whether the shooting was part of a conspiracy. Time-Life gave the film back to the Zapruder family in 1975 for a nominal $1.

Arbitrators were called in when lawyers for Mr Zapruder's heirs and the government failed to agree on fair compensation following the decision by the Assassination Records Review Board ruling in 1997 that the film should be declared the permanent possession of the US people.

Government experts pointed out that even an original manuscript of a President Lincoln speech had only raised $1.5 million at auction, and that the US should not pay much more for the film, especially as the Zapruder family would retain the copyright.

The Zapruder lawyers argued it was a unique artefact like a Vincent Van Gogh painting or an Andy Warhol print, and should be valued accordingly. The panel ruled by 2 votes to 1 that: "The Zapruder film is one of a kind".

I have brought with me today a very special copy of the Zapruder film of President Kennedy's assassination. And this relates somewhat to what attorney Belin was referring to earlier. As everyone knows the original was an eight millimeter positive. Copies of that film were immediately made for the FBI and the Secret Service, and within days Zapruder sold the original to Time Life. Although it was reported at the time that he obtained $25,000 for his film. In fact, the contract, which I provided ARRB shows he was paid $150,000. And that would be about a half million dollars today. I disagree with Belin who said it would be a million. I had a banker compute this and that's one of the many things we would probably disagree on is the rate of inflation since 1963. The payments were made in a series of six $25,000 payments that occurred shortly after the first of each year through 1968. Despite the substantial price paid for the film, for all rights, it was not exploited by Time Life as a motion picture film, i.e., it was never shown on TV or sold in any documentary form as a moving pictures. No newsreels, no TV specials, nothing. Yet one of the most controversial aspects of the film were never addressed by the Warren Commission was the violent backward motion of the head depicted on the frames following the fatal shot. What this means has been debated back and forth over the years. Passions run high on both sides. For reasons I never understand, the Warren Commission failed to address the issue. In other words, if we're to believe the record, the Warren Commission apparently didn't notice the very thing which has fueled the assassination debate for three decades. And of course the public didn't even know it was an issue because Time Life chose not to show it as a motion picture film after paying $150,000 for those exclusive rights. I might add, Professor Liebeler appeared here this morning and put the B.K. Jones report, a fellow from UCLA, on the table here and his contributing it. Thank you very much Professor Liebeler we already have that in the Archives. That was contributed 15 or 20 years ago with the Rockefeller Commission when that was already submitted to try to explain the backward snap of the head. But in anyway it's being resubmitted and I suppose there's no real danger in recycling that sort of thing.

The film is important for another reason. Because Zapruder was filming through a telephoto lens, some of the frames show the wounds and so the film constitutes an unusual photographic record of the President's wounds in Dallas. In order to do any work with the Zapruder film, whether about the wounds or about the motions shown, the velocity, the car, et cetera, the clearest possible copy is required. In commercial production applications a device known as an optical printer is normally used to copy motion picture film frame by frame particularly if blowups are to be made. But optical printers are not designed to accept home movies which are an eight millimeter format. In 1967 Life sent the film to Manhattan Effects, later EFX, a New York City film lab. Where film technician Moses Weitzman designed a device permitting a high quality full commercial optical printer to accept an 8 millimeter home movie film. Then in one fell swoop he enlarged the Zapruder film from 8 millimeter to 35 millimeter format. The kind used in standard motion picture work. The result is stunning as anyone knows who has seen the movie JFK, or who has purchased a laser disk copy of that film. One reason for the clarity is that Weitzman used a liquid gate, or a wet gate as it's called, which permits a liquid of the same index of refraction as the emulsion of the film to come in contact with the frame when it is imaged. The result is that scratches are eliminated or greatly reduced in the copy. The very best of these 35 millimeter negatives and interpositives were given to the customer Time Life and I would hope that Review Board would attempt to locate these with all resources you have available to you. They are a priceless record of our history. But with regard to the 35 millimeter negatives, known as technician copies, which Weitzman kept in his lab, these he gave to another researcher and they remain as they always have, completely unavailable to the research community. But in 1990 before that transfer took place, I had the opportunity to work with one of these 35 millimeter negatives. The best of the lot I'm told. One which had been loaned to the producer of the TV show Nova by Weitzman. First I supervised making high quality timed liquid gate contact interpositives. Then, using funds provided by several researchers - and this project cost between 10 and $15,000 - I rented the services of an optical lab in New York and for about a week I worked at the optical printer taking the next step that would be necessary by an archivist in order to preserve the record and create a progenitor for all future 35 millimeter prints. Operating the printer myself I also made high quality liquid gate interpositives from the 35 millimeter negative. Then I made interpositive blowup sequences directly from that same 35 millimeter interneg. Some focusing on Kennedy, some on Connally, some on the two Secret Service agents in the front of the car.

I'm holding here one of those 35 millimeter interpositives. It's a timed liquid gate contact interpositive, which I am today donating to the ARRB for placement in the JFK Records Collection. From this archival item, this 35 millimeter interpositive, it should be possible to make many negative positive pairs. That is, this 35 millimeter interpositive can be the progenitor of many 35 millimeter internegatives and they in turn can be used to create 35 millimeter positives, whether they be slides or motion picture film. Although I defer to Moses Weitzman, you can call this item the Lifton interpositive made from the Weitzman internegative. I cannot over emphasize the high quality of the original Weitzman internegative. One researcher who has worked in this area tells me that although he has bought rights for the film from the Zapruder family, when it comes to actually using pictures for his book, the negative from this interpositive, producers' positive images that are clearer than he can obtain from the corresponding source item at the National Archives. It does not surprise me that this is the case because Weitzman is a fine technical person and the internegative he made, which was done in 1967, is certainly equal and probably better than anything made by Life for the FBI or Secret Service back in '63 and '64, and may be better than anything made today in 1996 depending upon what has happened to the original film over the intervening decades.

Perhaps no greater debate has raged in the history of the study of the death of JFK than over the authenticity of a 27-second home movie of the assassination, known as "the Zapruder film". This footage has been described as "the most significant amateur recording of a news event in history". It is surely one of the most controversial. Some students of the crime take it as the absolute foundation for understanding what actually transpired. Others are not so sure.

This book brings together leading experts on the film, including Jack White, the legendary photoanalyst; David Healy, an expert on film production and post-production; John Costella, Ph.D., a physicist with specialization in light and the properties of moving objects; David W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D., the leading expert on the medical evidence and another authority on the film; David Lifton, a noted student of the assassination and author of Best Evidence; and James H. Fetzer, Ph.D., a professor of logic, critical thinking, and scientific reasoning.

The evidence that is presented in this volume provides proof that the film has not simply been edited by removing a few frames or by altering the contents of specific sequences (which has indeed been done in this instance) but that the whole film has been created by the use of sophisticated techniques relying upon optical printing and special effects, whereby any foreground can be merged with any background, any specific unwanted events can be removed and any wanted events can be introduced.

Intensive scientific analysis of the Zapruder film by a team of Life researchers, as well as by the Itek Corporation, reveals that the head actually undergoes a double movement. The optically enhanced computer analysis by Itek demonstrated that in frames Z312 through Z313, President Kennedy's head flies rapidly forward. This forward head movement is not apparent to the viewer of the film because the head moves faster than the speed of the film and camera. In frame 314 the head reverses direction and moves rapidly backward until it hits the rear seat in frames Z321...

The most plausible explanation for the forward and backward movement of the head and body is that of a double impact on the head, one shot fired from the rear, and the other from the front. The author has interviewed numerous physicians and veterans who served in Italy during World War II. He has also interviewed several veterans of the Italian Army who used Mannlicher-Carcano rifles and copper-jacketed ammunition. Collectively, these people have seen several thousand gunshot wounds inflicted by Mannlicher-Carcano rifles. Their unanimous experience has been that the type of head wounds suffered by President Kennedy, as well as the double movement of his head, could not possibly have been caused solely by Oswald's rifle....

The (Select House Committee on Assassinations) decided that the first shot was fired from the Depository at Zapruder frames Z157-161 and missed. The second shot, also from the Depository, came at Z188-191 and struck both Kennedy and Connally. The third shot, from the Grassy Knoll, came at Z295-296 and missed. The fourth shot, again from the Depository, came at Z312, struck President Kennedy in the head, and killed him. While the committee's scenario cannot be ruled out, several factors militate against it. First, the evidence against the single-bullet theory is overwhelming. Second, it hardly seems credible that an assassin firing from the knoll, only 50 feet from the president, missed, while one in the Depository, 300 feet away, hit his target. Third, the medical and ballistics evidence already covered argue strongly in favor of a hit from the Grassy Knoll.

A much more plausible scenario, one that fits the constraints both of the Zapruder film and tapes, as well as the medical and ballistics evidence, follows. The first shot, from the Depository, came at Zapruder frame Z177 and struck Kennedy in the back. The second shot, also from the Depository, struck Connally in the back. It came at Z208. The third shot, from the knoll, struck Kennedy in the head at Z313. The fourth and final shot, at frame Z327, came from the Depository and also hit Kennedy in the head. Even the committeee conceded the possibility of this sequence, although it did not place much credence in it.

Ron Redmon, a school principal in Indiana, has studied the Z-film extensively. Ron discovered that approximately 20 spectators along the north Elm curb east of the Stemmons sign do not appear to move for more than three seconds, while every spectator on the south curb does move. By overlapping images from two slide projectors, I determined that Ron was probably correct. It seems to me that a single image of the 20 spectators had been repeated over and over. It seems improbable that in this period of time not a single person moved an arm or leg, waved, or changed position to any noticeable extent. Ron speculates that when frames were removed in this sequence, spectator movements would have been very jerky so they had to be stabilized by repeating them. In correspondence with me, Ron also mentioned many other possible signs of tampering, which he summarized in The Fourth Decade in March of 1995. These include:

(A) In frames 144-153 (one-half second), spectator Hugh Betzner has moved a distance which exceeds human speed capability indicating excised frames.

(B) In frames 155-161 (one-third second), spectator Linda Willis has turned 180 degrees and comes in contact with spectator Robert Croft, another instance of superhuman speed... again indicating excised frames.

(C) In frames 161-180 (approximately one second), Linda Willis takes several steps, and Rosemary Willis takes several steps... again much too fast, indicating excised frames.

(D) Looking at the Stemmons sign, in frame 161 it is in perfect condition, but by frame 183 there is a significant notch on the top left edge, yet by frame 188, the notch disappears.

(E) In frame 255, Ron speculates that a fake shadow has obscured driver William Greer, to his west. Since the sun was overhead and to Greer's left, Ron says this shadow is inconsistent.

(F) In frames 312-321, Governor Connally turns 90 degrees in one half-second. Also the white spot on the grass in the background moves more than 10 feet in one half second.

(G) In frames 321-336, JFK's head moves from the seat back to leaning forward with his head in contact with Jackie's left arm in less than one second, seemingly too fast.

(H) In frames 153-155 (one-ninth of a second), a woman who is the thirteenth person east of the Stemmons sign has shifted her feet significantly... more than should be possible.

(I) In frames 335-336 (one-eighteenth of a second), Jackie moves her right arm a significant distance. Ron reminds us that laboratory tests show that a human eye blink is one-twenty-fifth of a second, and a flinch or startle response of moving an arm, leg or head takes one-fifth of a second as a basis for his conclusions.

(J) Comparing the Willis and Betzner photos, which are almost simultaneous in time, Ron notes that in Willis five adults and a child can be seen framed between the posts of the Stemmons sign, but in the Betzner picture, from a similar angle and a split second earlier, the same persons are not seen. Also, two women appearing in Zapruder in this sequence (188-210) should be seen in Willis and Betzner are not seen.

(K) In recent correspondence with me, Ron cites Dan Rather's description of the film and compares it to what is seen. Rather, of course, was one of the first persons to view the Z-film. Early in his commentary. Rather says the film shows... "The President's automobile was preceded by one other car... (the film does not show this) ... the President's black Lincoln automobile made a turn, a left turn, off Houston Street onto Elm Street (the film does not show this). It got about 35 yards from the corner of Elm and Houston... at the moment the President put his hand up and lurched forward and it was obvious he had been hit." The present film begins with the limo already on Elm at frame 133 and the forward lurch is between frames 188-200. "Governor Connally," Rather continued, "... in the seat just in front of the President, sensed something was wrong... his coat was unbuttoned... and as he turned he extended his right hand toward the President, he exposed his entire shirt front and chest... and was wounded with... a second shot (as Redmon comments, no existing Zapruder frames show the specific action that Rather describes, with the governor in full turn with hand extended toward the President). Rather continues"... the third shot hit the President, and... his head went forward with considerable violence." Was Rather looking at an unaltered different film... or is he just a lousy reporter?

In the wider context of the assassination, the most incongruous feature of the extant "Zapruder" film is arguably the depiction of a single, fatal shot to the President's head, which appears to blow out the entire right temple area, leaving a massive "crater".

The obvious inconsistencies between this imagery and the wounds to the President when he arrived at Parkland Hospital are enough to convince any serious student of the assassination that this section of the film is a complete fabrication. (Author David Lifton seems to be the first person to have made this observation in print, in his 1980 book Best Evidence.) But even leaving aside this "medical" evidence of alteration, the film itself can be examined for physical inconsistencies that would not occur if it were genuine, but which may have been overlooked if created as a work of "special effects". The "explosion" in Frame 313.

The bright red "explosion" shown in Frame 313 of the extant film appears to be a completely spurious addition. Recall that this "explosion" is not a ball of flame (as it would be if it were a special effect for an action movie), but rather is supposed to represent bloody matter ejected from the President's head. Now, whereas flame is caused by the emission of light upon the combustion of some material (which will subside when the fuel is spent), the red "spray" shown in Frame 313 ostensibly represents the reflection of light from the bloody matter, which would persist while this matter remains in the field of view.

My interest in this has endured for some time now. I first saw the Zapruder film around the Geraldo showing in 1975. It was a bootleg copy that some cameraman had come across. The first time I saw it, perhaps five or six other television cameramen were with me and, to a man, we felt it was very peculiar.

Every man in the room had combat-zone camera experience and their comments can be summed up as follows: either Zapruder knew what was coming down or he was stone-cold deaf. Anyone who was unaware of what was about to transpire and was forward of any muzzle blast - especially within 50 feet to his rear, as he reported - would have been off that pedestal in a flash.

My knee-jerk summation of the Zapruder film? JFK had to have been shot by more than one rifle and from more than one direction - possibly three directions, but certainly at least two. I don't give much credence to the so-called jet effect.

My more considered opinion? At least two guns from the rear, where, at my gut level, I surmise two from the right rear and one from the front, probably as an insurance policy (from the limo driver's front-facing perspective).

The Zapruder film was viewed on the day of the assassination by lab employees after it was processed. It wasn't sold to LIFE until the following day, after being viewed by Secret Service agents and media representatives.

Although Time-LIFE didn't allow public showings of the film, it was available for viewing at the National Archives following the Warren Commission Report's publication, and many researchers viewed it there.

The film was also repeatedly publicly shown in 1969 at the Clay Shaw trial in New Orleans, after which bootleg copies circulated widely. The film was also shown at JFK conferences beginning in 1973.

The idea that anyone had 12 years to "work on" the film is, of course, untenable. No one who saw in on November 22 or 23, 1963 has alleged alteration, and the film was readily viewable by researchers by late 1964, which would be a maximum of 12 months, not 12 years. Many of us had seen the film before it was shown on television in March 1975.

I have examined the arguments alleging alteration of the film, and have found nothing convincing in them. I have also examined the Zavada Report, which seems to firmly establish the film at the Archives is the camera original. The two Secret Service copies of the film are also at the Archives (no missing frames).

Although the limousine slowed considerably, it didn't stop. Witnesses alongside the limousine mostly support this - and most witnesses who report a stop were viewing the limo from behind. I don't recall any early statement by Moorman, Hill or the motorcycle officers that the limo stopped. Some confusion has resulted from the fact that the Warren Commission used an average speed, when the limo went both faster and slower than the average at various points.

There have also been interesting developments from the crime scene, perhaps the most important of which may seem like a no-brainer: The famous 26-second Zapruder home movie of JFK's murder contains original undoctored photographic imagery of the assassination. This authentication was deemed necessary by the Assassination Records Review Board, created by Congress to oversee the release of JFK records, because a vocal faction of JFK conspiracy theorists in the 1990s started claiming that the film had been surreptitiously altered to hide evidence of a conspiracy. (Their theory refuted, these conspiracy theorists abandoned the JFK field for greener pastures of 9/11 speculation.) However, this isn't to say that there aren't some legitimate and uncomfortable questions about assassination-related photographs.

"The only caution I have in the photographic record concerns the JFK autopsy material," says Richard Trask, a photo archivist in Danvers, Massachusetts who has the world's biggest collection of JFK assassination imagery, and has written two books on the subject. "That is an area that always makes me pause. What was happening during the autopsy if there was a cover-up or just incompetence, I don't know. It is the only area of the JFK story that I have some doubts about."

As well he should. The JFK medical evidence is worse than a mess -- it is a documented national scandal that awaits decent news coverage. The new evidence shows beyond a reasonable doubt that the photographic record of Kennedy's autopsy has been tampered with by persons unknown. The sworn testimony and records developed by the Assassination Records Review Board in the late 1990s allow no other conclusion.

Among the key post-Stone revelations in the JFK medical evidence:

Autopsy photographs of Kennedy's body are missing from government archives, according to sworn testimony from doctors and medical technicians involved in the autopsy. The origins of other autopsy photos in the collection cannot be determined.

Two FBI agents who took notes during the autopsy gave detailed sworn testimonies rejecting the so-called single bullet theory which girds the official story that Oswald alone killed Kennedy.

Dr. James Humes, the chief pathologist at JFK's autopsy, admitted under oath that he destroyed a first draft of his autopsy report. Humes had previously only admitted to destroying his original notes.

Dr. Gary Aguilar, a San Francisco ophthalmologist who has written about the autopsy, is emphatic. "The medical evidence is really stark evidence of a cover-up in my view," he says. "The story is so extraordinary that it is hard for some people, especially in mainstream media organizations, to come to grips with it. There's just no doubt that there were very strange things going on around the president's body that weekend."

Sounds like a paranoid fantasy? More than a few of the people who participated in the JFK autopsy have sworn to it.

Saundra Kay Spencer was a technician at the Navy's photographic laboratory in Washington. She developed the JFK autopsy photos on the weekend after Kennedy's death. She kept her oath of secrecy for 34 years. When she spoke to the ARRB in 1997, Spencer displayed the efficiency of a career military woman. She was well prepared with a sharp memory for the details of her involvement in the amazing events of November 22-24, 1963. Her testimony, after reviewing all the JFK autopsy photographs in the National Archives, was unequivocal. "The views [of JFK's body] we produced at the [Naval] Photographic Center are not included [in the current autopsy collection]," she said. "Between those photographs and the ones we did, there had to be some massive cosmetic things done to the President's body."

FBI agent Francis O'Neill was present during the autopsy and took notes. In 1997, he also viewed the photographs. Referring to an autopsy photograph showing the wound in the back of Kennedy's head, O'Neill said, "This looks like it's been doctored in some way. I specifically do not recall those -- I mean, being that clean or that fixed up. To me, it looks like these pictures have been. It would appear to me that there was a -- more of a massive wound. ." O'Neill emphasized he was not saying the autopsy photographs themselves had been doctored but that the wounds themselves had been cleaned up before the photograph was taken.

James Sibert, another FBI agent present at the autopsy, had a similar reaction to the photos. "I don't recall anything like this at all during the autopsy," he said under oath. "There was much -- well, the wound was more pronounced. And it looks like it could have been reconstructed or something, as compared with what my recollection was."

What both men were objecting to was the lack of a big hole in the back of JFK's head which would be somewhat indicative of a so-called blowout wound caused by a shot from the front.

The retired FBI agents were especially scathing about the single bullet theory positing that one bullet caused seven non-fatal wounds in Kennedy and [Texas] Governor Connally and emerged largely undamaged on a hospital stretcher.

They took notes on the autopsy as Dr. Humes examined Kennedy's body. Both said the autopsies concluded the bullet that hit Kennedy in his back had not transited his body. But chief pathologist Humes took another view in his autopsy report, writing that the bullet had emerged from Kennedy's throat and gone on to strike Governor Connally. But Humes's credibility is undermined by the ARRB's discovery that he destroyed not only his notes, but also his first draft of the autopsy report without ever revealing its contents or even existence.

Sibert later told a JFK researcher of the single bullet theory: "It's magic, not medicine."

JFK's Assassination Video Was Kept From The Public For 12 Years. Here's What We Saw When It Aired.

Abraham Zapruder made the short trip from his house to Dealey Plaza in Dallas exactly 50 years ago on Friday, hoping to use his newfangled 8mm camera to film President John F. Kennedy as his motorcade passed through town. What the women's sportswear designer captured instead would be the tragic death of a man whom he admired, playing out on 486 frames over the course of just under 27 seconds.

The clip above would come to shape the ensuing evaluation and controversy over Kennedy's untimely death. While it wasn't the only recording of the episode, the Zapruder film was used as a centerpiece of the Warren Commission, an investigation mounted by President Lyndon B. Johnson to determine the details of his predecessor's killing. Using the film and a trove of other evidence and testimony, officials determined in 1964 that Lee Harvey Oswald had acted alone in the assassination.

But even after the controversial conclusion, the complete version of the Zapruder film remained shielded from the public for another 11 years, until 1975, when it aired live on ABC's Good Night America, then hosted by Geraldo Rivera:

Zapruder Film - History

P rior to 1963, peacetime Presidents of the United States travelled freely through American cities. Such visits and crowd contact was especially useful during the run-up to a presidential election. During the 1960 election, JFK often campaigned atop the rear seats of open convertibles driven slowly through major cities. But with the next election — and the prestige of the Presidency now on his shoulders — Kennedy had taken a more subdued approach in what would be his last motorcades.

Still, even if JFK never sat atop the rear seat anymore, there would be plenty of fine photo opportunities for amateurs who turned out for an early campaign-swing through Texas in late November of 1963. Not to mention the appeal of First Lady Jackie, enjoying her first campaign trip since 1960.

In Dallas, many, including professional AP photographer Jim Altgens, considered the open area of Dealey Plaza to offer the best photo opportunities. By time the motorcade reached Dallas' most historic juncture, there were some three dozen photographers in position. But only one was filming from the President's side as the shots rang out.

The Zapruder Film

Zapruder's own first impressions of the assassination touched on the comic. He thought the President was "pretending" to be hit when the car emerged from behind a sign between Zapruder and Kennedy. He told the Warren Commission:

  • Martin Shackelford's classic study "Listening to the Zapruder Film" which has professional lip readers examine the film.
  • Steven Barber's "A New Look At The Zapruder Film" closely scrutinizes a new, very high-quality video of the film.

Since 1949, Abraham Zapruder had operated his "Jennifer Juniors, Inc. of Dallas," manufacturing women's and young ladies' clothing. In 1963, the company ran out of the fourth and fifth-floors of the Dal-Tex Building at 501 Elm, across Houston Street from the Depository. With his two children, Henry and Myrna, now grown and with young children of their own, Zapruder purchased a Bell & Howell Zoomatic Director Series 8-mm camera, Model 414 PD in 1962 in order to record his grandchildren's activities. Fortunately for history, it was one of the best-quality home cameras then available.

Aware that the President would be passing by his building, Zapruder decided to leave his camera home when November 22, 1963 dawned overcast with showers. As the morning turned sunny, "Mr. Z," as he was called by his employees, was coached into returning home for the camera by his secretary Lillian Rodgers. Towards mid-noon, Zapruder choose a foot-foot-high concrete abutment at the west end of the Bryan Colonnade's steps, next to the Grassy Knoll.

The elevated perch would turn out to be one of the best vantage points in Dealey Plaza, but it meant a challenge to Zapruder's vertigo. He asked his receptionist, Marilyn Sitzman, to climb up behind him and steady him as he filmed. His camera fully-wound, Zapruder's camera captured events at a steady 18.3 frames-per-second. The first 132 frames (7-seconds) show the lead motorcycle escort headed down Elm.

Realizing the Presidential party was not immediately behind, Zapruder stopped filming to conserve film. His next sequence would begin with the Presidential Lincoln already on Elm and run uninterrupted for 354 frames. Its 19-seconds would capture the most dramatic and horrific single event of the century.

Key Developments

Showing even more presence of mind, Zapruder immediately returned to his office and locked the camera in a small safe. A Dallas Morning News reporter named Harry McCormack notified Forrest Sorrels, Agent-in-Charge of the Dallas Secret Service field office, that Zapruder might have filmed the assassination. The two met Zapruder at his office, not really knowing the true importance of his remarkable film. Sorrels left after a promise of a copy for his agency's use.

Zapruder then went with McCormack to the News building, hoping to develop the film there. From there they went to the paper's television branch, WFAA, only to be told the station's lab was set up for black & white 16mm newsfilm. Although losing what would have been TV's greatest news exclusive, WFAA did a live interview with Zapruder himself, barely 90-minutes after the assassination.

On Zapruder's behalf, WFAA contacted the Eastman Kodak Company on Manor Way, who agreed to process his film right away. Kodak employee Phil Chamberlain recalled there was only three reels of camera film available to make first-generation copies. Later that afternoon, Sorrels received two of the copies at Zapruder's office. That evening, one of Sorrels' copies was on its way to Secret Service Chief James Rowley in Washington.

The other of Sorrels' copies was loaned to the FBI, who — unable to dupe the film locally — sent the film to the FBI lab in Washington, where second-generation copies were made. The first-generation copy was returned to Dallas on November 26th.

Enter LIFE

The original went to Life's Chicago printing plant, where the aborted November 24th issue was now being reworked. The copy print went to Life's New York offices, where it so revulsed publisher C.D. Jackson that he ordered Stolley to secure from Zapruder the remaining motion picture rights. The final agreement, worked out on the day of President Kennedy's funeral, called for Zapruder to receive $25,000 immediately, with installments of $25,000 to be paid annually for a total of $150,000.

Two days later, Zapruder donated the initial payment to the survivors of J.D. Tippit, the Dallas police officer slain by Oswald. Fearing criticism of profiteering, Zapruder left the impression that the $25,000 was the total amount he had received for the film. It would be some time before the full extent of the Life agreement came out. Although the $150,000 total (equal to a half-million today) may seem excessive, Life (the CNN of its day) had paid $500,000 just a few years earlier for the exclusive story of the Gemini astronauts and their wives.

The Film Emerges

On March 6, 1975, the Zapruder film finally made its American TV premiere on Geraldo Rivera's talk show Good Night America. A month earlier, the film had first been shown on TV in Australia. In April, wishing to avoid the appearance of "suppression," Time Inc. returned the film and all commercial rights to Abraham Zapruder's heirs for one dollar. Since 1978, the original has been kept in "courtesy storage" under conservation-conditions at the National Archives.

In 1992, reacting to public pressure in the wake of the JFK movie, Congress passed the JFK Assassination Records Collection Act, which authorized the government to seize crucial records of the assassination. On August 1st, 1998, the government took possession of the Zapruder film already in its vaults. Compensation issues with Zapruder's heirs were resolved in 1999, resulting in a multi-million package for the family.

One project the Zapruders did manage to deliver was the 45-minute video "Image of an Assassination: A New Look at the Zapruder Film" released in late 1998, a compelling look at the film's history and the preservation efforts of the National Archives. In January 2000, the Zapruder family gave its first-generation copy, made on the afternoon of the assassination, to the Sixth Floor Museum. This was the film the family would allow duplication for commercial use and may be the most-seen version ever.

The family, required by the government to turn title over to a public institution, assigned the film's copyright to the Museum, trusting their judgment as to its use. Unfortunately, this is the same museum that allowed a webcam in the Sniper's Nest window. It is hoped that caution — and respect for the President's family — will prevail. If the initial sentiments of a good-many Texans in 1963 had been heeded, Jack Ruby would have been pardoned and the Depository building razed.

The Head Snap

To this day, millions remain unaware that such forthright evidence of a second gunman was undermined almost from the beginning. In 1965, researchers using a frame-by-frame comparison discovered the head went violently forward between Zapruder frames 312 (last frame before impact) and frame 313 (head explosion). The subsequent backward motion is much more slower and thus more distinctive in live-action viewing.

The forward head movement, along with the explosion forward of skull and brain material is entirely consistent with a shot from the Sniper's Nest. By frame 313, the Grassy Knoll was perpendicular to the President's head an impact would have exited through the left side of the skull, but autopsy X-rays and photos show no skull or metal fragments in the left hemisphere, much less a gaping exit wound.

  • The theory of a "jet effect" developed by physicist Luis Alvarez and developed by Dr. John Lattimer.
  • The theory of a "neuromuscular spasm" caused by the massive wound to the head.

I call it the Compression/Recoil Theory. The initial forward movement of the head was confirmed by the Nix film that the rearward recoil also went left was captured in the Muchmore film and Moorman photo.

The Single-Bullet Theory

That same day, Connally's surgeons announced that his injuries were caused by a single bullet. Initially, most thought the Governor's wounding accounted for one of the three shots thought to have been fired. Since the final shot had fatally struck the President's head seconds after Connally had been shot, it was reasoned that the first shot had struck Kennedy passing through his throat and that the second shot had struck Connally.

But analysis of the Zapruder film showed the President and Governor reacting very close together. And just one bullet had been recovered at Parkland Hospital on whose stretcher it wasn't sure. As well, there were reports that at least one of the shots likely missed, causing spray to explode off the pavement and sending a lead fragment down to the mouth of the Triple Underpass where witness James Tague was superficially injured on the cheek.

During the 1964 Warren Commission investigation, Assistant Counsel Arlen Spector (now a prominent US Senator) developed the Single Bullet Theory as a forthright attempt to reconcile the known medical and ballistic facts. Spector suggested that since Connally was seated in front of Kennedy and slightly lower due to being in a jumpseat, the two were aligned to have been wounded by the same bullet. Where did the bullet that emerged from JFK's throat go if not into Connally? Only lead fragments from the head shot were found inside the limousine.

Trajectory and photographic analysis by the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1978 (the height differential between the two men was 8 cm) seem to bloster the Spector's theory. As well, its Medical Panel dismissed charges that the bullet had left behind so much lead in Connally's chest that it couldn't have been the nearly-whole "Pristine Bullet" recovered at Parkland what was thought to be "lead" on Connally's X-rays turned out to be photographic artifacts.

In 1992, Failure Analysis Associates, Inc. disclosed the important evidence of Connally's lapel flipping outward for one-eighteen of a second at Zapruder frame 224. Failure Analysis' re-creation of the assassination using 3-D computer modeling confirmed a single bullet track was possible through both men at Z224, the moment of the lapel-flip. Using the Governor's wound sites and position at wounding, Failure Analysis projected the bullet trajectory backwards, leading through the President's neck. The resulting cone, reflecting a margin of error, included the Oswald window.

Some have suggested that since the Governor held onto his hat until after the fatal head shot, his wrist injury was caused by a fragment from the skull impact. However, closer inspection of Zapruder frames prior to the head shot reveals the Governor's Stetson hat involuntarily held aloft by a bent wrist, proof of paralysis. The shattering of Connally's radius bone did not affect the muscles and nerve that allow the fingers and thumb to oppose each other. Failure Analysis revealed a violent upward flip of the Governor's right arm for over one-third of a second just after frame 224.

The Zapruder film remains the primary historical documentation of the assassination. By sheer luck, a man with good presence-of-mind and a decent camera just happened to choose one of the best vantage points in Dealey Plaza to record the murder. While the film is shocking and graphic, there is much to commend — and always more to debate.

The Zapruder film: Capturing when the world changed in 26 seconds

It has been called the most important 26 seconds of film ever recorded, when a Dallas dressmaker captured the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy in horrific detail.

Now, his granddaughter is sharing the story behind the lens, and how that short film shaped the way the world sees news unfold.

Alexandra Zapruder says her family always said the movie was an &ldquoaccident of fate,&rdquo and that her grandfather was in &ldquothe wrong place at the wrong time&rdquo that terrible day in Dallas. But when he turned on his camera he captured a moment that marked a shift in our country -- and his last name became embedded in American culture.

The Zapruder film was the first of its kind. It broke every barrier. And Alexandra Zapruder grew up with it.

Her grandfather, Abraham, a Dallas dressmaker and Russian immigrant who loved making home movies, wanted to record the president&rsquos visit for his wife and children. With an 8 millimeter camera, he stood on a concrete ledge on the grassy knoll overlooking Dealey Plaza, and when he saw the limousines coming around the corner, he began filming.

&ldquoHe was the eyes for America onto that horrible day,&rdquo said correspondent Jan Crawford.

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&ldquoThat&rsquos right,&rsquo said Alexandra. &ldquoAnd I think in many ways the film is really America&rsquos memory of this event.&rdquo

In an instant, you see the entire course of history changed &hellip just 486 frames of a home movie that showed the shooting of a president from beginning to end.


But the story of the Zapruder film is far more than those twenty-six seconds of footage, as Alexandra Zapruder recounts in her new book, &ldquoTwenty-Six Seconds: A Personal History of the Zapruder Film&rdquo (Twelve).

Within hours her grandfather was himself thrust in front of the camera and into a media storm. &ldquoI saw his head practically open up, all blood and everything, and I kept on shooting,&rdquo he told reporters.

The government took copies of the film, but left Zapruder with the original. He wanted the film to be protected out of respect for the Kennedys, so he entrusted it to Life magazine, after Life agreed it shouldn&rsquot be sensationalized.

&ldquoTheir interest was actually in protecting the American people and protecting the Kennedys, which in today&rsquos world seems completely unfathomable,&rdquo said Alexandra. &ldquoNobody protects anybody. The whole concept of privacy is practically obsolete.&rdquo

For the next 12 years Life kept the original film under wraps. But in 1975 Geraldo Rivera aired a bootleg copy. He called it &ldquothe most horrifying thing I have ever seen in the movies.&rdquo

Keeping it from the public fueled conspiracy theories that the government had something to hide. &ldquoThe film wasn&rsquot shown as a film to the American people for 12 years,&rdquo Alexandra said. &ldquoNow, it wouldn&rsquot be 12 seconds before it was up on YouTube. That&rsquos the other part of the story that&rsquos so fascinating, is the story of changing technology.&rdquo

Crawford talked to Zapruder in a gallery at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., where you can see how technology has evolved and affected journalism. In fact, some of the most striking moments of journalism embedded in our collective consciousness have been taken by ordinary folks.

&ldquoYour grandfather, he was kind of the first citizen-journalist, in a way,&rdquo said Crawford.

&ldquoHe was! I think a lot about the Black Lives Matter movement and the use of the cellphone as a way to record something. It&rsquos a form of resistance. It&rsquos become something even more powerful.&rdquo

But still, the Zapruder film carries with it its own power. By accident or fate, it changed how we saw the world.

&ldquoIt&rsquos the story of how life turns in an instant,&rdquo Alexandra said. &ldquoYou know, here is this beautiful couple riding down the street on a sunny day. And then in a matter of seconds it&rsquos over, and everything is over. Their lives changed, my grandfather&rsquos life changed, the culture changed, the society changed, the political climate, America, the world. Everything changed, and there it is on film.&rdquo

It is that existential point that makes this film so valuable. In 1999, the government agreed to pay the Zapruder family $16 million, to preserve the film in the National Archives.

Abraham Zapruder: the man behind history's most infamous home movie

I t's a scene etched into our collective unconscious. The smiling couple waving to crowds from a black open-top limousine. Bright green grass. Her bright-pink suit and hat. Then something seems to catch his throat. She leans over to him. His head snaps back and forth violently. She rises out of her seat and reaches out across the boot in horror. The car speeds up and drives off.

Except something's not right. That's not Jackie Kennedy in the pink suit it's a man in drag. And the president doesn't seem to be hurt after all. In fact, they've driven right round Dealey Plaza and the whole thing is happening again. This isn't Abraham Zapruder's infamous home movie it's actually The Eternal Frame, a brazenly irreverent reenactment of the Kennedy assassination, or more accurately, a reenactment of the Zapruder film itself. It was made in November 1975 by two San Francisco-based art collectives, Ant Farm and TR Uthco. Just before the "shooting", the actor playing JFK makes a television address. "I am in reality only another link in that chain of pictures which makes up the sum total of information accessible to us all as Americans," he says, in an exaggeratedly thick Boston accent.

"It was, of course, in bad taste," says Chip Lord, Ant Farm's co-founder, now a film professor at the University of California Santa Cruz. "Just to do anything other than show reverence towards the Kennedy family and the myth was obviously a taboo in American cultural life. So that became an attraction of the project. I think we felt there might be some essential truth in going to Dallas and re-performing the event."

They didn't have any official permits, Lord recalls. They just turned up and started shooting early one Sunday morning. When no one stopped them, they went round and did it again, and again – maybe 20 times. A crowd of tourists formed to watch. Many of them assumed it was an official event. In the film, one woman sheds tears and calls it "a beautiful reenactment", which it clearly isn't.

JFK has been dying again and again ever since, particularly in the movies. The echoes of his assassination still resound through cinema. The post-JFK golden age of Hollywood conspiracy thrillers has been well chronicled, but what has arguably had a deeper impact is the Zapruder film itself. From the moment it recorded Kennedy's life horrifically cut short, it took on a life of its own. It is technically a short documentary: just 26 seconds long, 486 silent, colour, 8mm frames. It is also an official piece of evidence, a historical record, an art object, a genuine snuff movie. Some have called it the foundation stone of citizen journalism – a harbinger of the current YouTube era, where anyone with a camera can create something of global broadcast value. To some, as well as JFK's death, the Zapruder film represents the death of cinematic truth itself.

None of this was anywhere near Zapruder's mind when he strolled out to Dealey Plaza on his lunch break to record Kennedy's drive-past. Zapruder had actually left his camera at home that day. An assistant in his dress factory persuaded him to go back and get it. Within hours of the assassination, Zapruder had given copies of his movie to two men, thus setting it off on divergent but intersecting paths. The first was Secret Service agent Forrest Sorrels, who requested it for official investigatory use. The second man was Richard Stolley, an editor at Life magazine, who won the media bidding war for the movie. Zapruder sold it to Life for $150,000, with the promise that they never publish frame 313: the fatal shot itself.

The world knew about the existence of the Zapruder film almost immediately. CBS presenter Dan Rather described its contents (inaccurately) on television, two days after the assassination. Life printed still images from it in its commemorative issue a week later, and would go on to print images over the coming decade. But mainstream audiences would not get to see the entire, unedited film until March 1975, when it was shown on late-night TV. That was a few months before The Eternal Frame's reenactment, but, by then, Ant Farm and many others had already obtained bootleg copies of the film. Lord got his through a contact with "a conspiracy-type network," he says. "It was a 16mm copy. The colour was almost completely washed out." That didn't stop a local TV station asking if they could borrow it to broadcast.

By that time, the film had already seeped into popular culture. The Kennedys were rapidly co-opted into Andy Warhol's lexicon, since they ticked the boxes for both media celebrity and violent crime. Many of Warhol's iconic images of the couple were based on photos from Life magazine. Like Ant Farm, he was commenting on the media portrayal of the event. "What bothered me was the way television and radio were programming everybody to feel so sad," he said at the time. "It seemed like no matter how hard you tried, you couldn't get away from the thing." Warhol turned Zapruder himself for his 1966 film Since – an unfinished, amateurish reconstruction using his regular Factory "superstars". In 1967, film artist Bruce Conner incorporated the Zapruder film in his influential Report, a stirring montage of news footage and voiceovers from the day of the assassination. Then John Waters restaged Zapruder in his very first film, 1968's Eat Your Make Up, on his parents' lawn, with Divine as Jackie Kennedy. Now the Zapruder film is out there in the pop-cultural ether, reproduced and referenced in movies (from Kentucky Fried Movie to In The Line of Fire to Watchmen), sitcoms (Seinfeld, Family Guy) and music videos (Lana Del Rey's National Anthem).

But that other path the Zapruder film took, via the copies he handed to the Secret Service, created a parallel history. From Sorrels the film found its way to the investigating Warren Commission the following year. However, the commission's printed reproductions of it omitted some frames and switched around others, planting seeds of suspicion. Over the course of subsequent investigations of the Kennedy assassination, official and unofficial, the Zapruder film somehow became evidence of a cover-up. It still is today. A simple internet search throws up dozens of analyses of the footage, explaining why it is a fake, how it has been doctored, why it doesn't match other official accounts, why there was another shooter – you name it.

Billy Bob Thornton in Parkland.

"You might think it would close down conspiracy theories but it opens them up," says Dr Clare Birchall from the Institute of North American Studies at King's College London, who has written extensively on conspiracy culture. The fact that the Zapruder film "proves" so many conflicting versions of events says something about the inherent instability of film as factual record, and the gap between film and experience, she suggests. "The camera 'never lies', and yet it is precisely that which allows one to lie. Visual evidence is eminently interpretable. In that sense it already contains the possibilities of conspiracy theory."

You can see the same process in modern-day events such as 9/11, Birchall continues, where the same images have been used to support innumerable theories. "But in terms of disputed visual evidence, the Zapruder film is the classic. It's seen as the motherlode of conspiracy theory. The theories that draw in everything, from the Illuminati to the New World Order, always have JFK in there at some point." Is cinema any different? What is a movie if not a selection of moving images arranged into a persuasive narrative? No wonder so many film-makers have been drawn to the subject. Within that golden age of Hollywood conspiracy thrillers, a few addressed the ambiguity of media directly – Antonioni's Blow-Up and Coppola's The Conversation. But in later years has come a new breed of film-maker committed to cracking the JFK mystery themselves. Prime suspect: Oliver Stone, and his 1991 movie JFK, in which district attorney Jim Garrison, played by Kevin Costner, pieces together a vast conspiracy involving Lyndon Johnson, the CIA, the mafia, the military-industrial complex, the gay community, possibly the Dallas Cowboys – it gets confusing. Ostensibly based on fact, it uses repeated playings of the Zapruder film to give credence to Garrison's on-screen argument, but in terms of historical accuracy, it's as flawed and contestable as the crackpot YouTube theories.

Still, Stone's JFK struck a chord with an American public who felt they still weren't getting the truth. Its success prompted the US government to collect and make public all the government records relating to the assassination to prove there was no conspiracy. Those records included the Zapruder film: the US government took possession of the film under the 1992 law known as the JFK Act, and in 1999 a special arbitration panel awarded $16m plus interest to the Zapruder family as compensation, after which they donated the copyright to the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. The asking price for use of it in a movie, such as JFK, is now $80,000.

Stone hasn't been the only one drawn back to Dealey Plaza. In 2011, Oscar-winning documentarian Errol Morris made a short film focusing on the "Umbrella Man" – a background figure, caught in the Zapruder film incongruously holding an open black umbrella that sunny day. Was it a signal? A concealed weapon? Morris's film closes the case (no spoilers here), only for another esteemed film-maker, Alex Cox, to reopen it. Cox posted a YouTube response effectively dismissing Morris's film. He's something of a JFK nut, it turns out. In another YouTube short, Cox questions the authenticity of the Zapruder film itself. He has recently published a book on JFK and Lee Harvey Oswald. Doing a considerably more thorough job is Irish film-maker Shane O'Sullivan, whose new documentary, Killing Oswald, which sifts through the paperwork made public after Stone's JFK, and raises compelling new questions about the whole affair.

And finally we have Parkland, a new big-budget dramatisation of events, produced by Tom Hanks. Centred on the hospital that treated both Kennedy and Oswald after they were shot, it includes all the now-familiar suspects: agent Sorrels (played by Billy Bob Thornton), the Dallas police, Oswald and his family, and here's our man Zapruder, played by the eminently sympathetic Paul Giamatti. Parkland almost functions as a Zapruder "making of". Rather than restaging the assassination yet again, it homes in on Zapruder's face during those moments, registering his shock as he films. Similarly, the only time we see Zapruder's film, it's reflected in the spectacles of Zapruder himself. Giamatti found the experience overwhelming, says Parkland's writer and director, Peter Landesman. "He had a little nervous breakdown before he started. He's playing Zapruder, in Zapruder's clothes, where Zapruder was in Dealey Plaza. It was a very weird out-of-body experience. He enjoyed it but it was a very freaky thing."

Landesman, a former journalist, doesn't indulge in any conspiracy theorising. "There's no doubt where the bullets came from unless you really want to believe in Santa Claus." Instead, Parkland restores some humanity to events numbed by 50 years of mediation and repetition, putting us in the emergency room as doctors frantically try to revive the dying president, as Jackie hands them a piece of her husband's skull she's still clutching.

The film also restores some humanity to Zapruder himself. Landesman had prolonged conversations with his family to obtain their permission, and he feels great sympathy for the man. Zapruder was the embodiment of the American dream: a Russian Jewish immigrant who worked hard to integrate and to make his fortune. Some accused him of greed for demanding money for the film, but Landesman (who also stumped up his US$80,000 for the rights) is more forgiving: "He was smart enough to know what was going to happen. He wanted some kind of compensation for what he knew was the end of his life as he knew it, but also it was the crushing of his American patriotism. Immigrants are converts and converts make the most vociferous ideologues. He was a flag-waving patriot, so to have his president have his head blown off right in front of him was a big deal."

Zapruder was haunted by the assassination for the rest of his life. He testified at both the Warren Commission hearings and the Clay Shaw trial in 1969. He wept on both occasions. "I have seen it so many times," he told the Warren Commission, having been effectively forced by law to watch his film again. "In fact, I used to have nightmares. The thing would come every night – I wake up and see this." He died of cancer in 1970. According to his family, after 22 November 1963, he never looked through a camera lens again.

This article was corrected on 6 December 2013. The earlier version said "the [Zapruder] family sold the film to the government for $16m, though they still retain the copyright." In fact the family no longer retain the copyright, and therefore no longer license or receive payment for its use. The article has also been amended to clarify the process by which the family were compensated after the government took possession of the film.

Irrationality in JFK Assassination Research

The current state of the evidence does not justify the conclusion that the Zapruder film is a forgery. Of course, new evidence may emerge that will provide such justification. At the moment, however, that conclusion is the result of irrational thinking.

It is irrational to invent a conspiracy to explain every apparent discrepancy in the evidence. Not every such discrepancy even requires a specific explanation. Eye–witnesses can be mistaken, technical data can be incompetently assembled and analysed, and photographs can display unexpected visual effects. In any complex set of evidence, there are likely to be elements that do not match.

Cult–Like Behaviour Among Conspiracy Theorists

The desire to explain everything, whether in order to find an elusive smoking gun or to stake one’s claim to a particular area of study, is a harmful characteristic of much JFK assassination research. It has led to cult–like behaviour, in which anyone who fails to agree with every aspect of a particular explanation is damned as a heretic.

The Definition of a Conspiracy Theorist

‘Conspiracy theorist,’ when used as a derogatory term, usually refers to someone for whom a conspiracy is the default explanation for events, or at least someone who uses conspiratorial explanations for events when the evidence does not justify it. That definition applies to those who, on the current state of the evidence, conclude that the Zapruder film was forged.

The Credibility of Conspiracy Theories

As a general rule, conspiracies very rarely happen. In some types of event, such as the assassinations of political figures, conspiracies are not uncommon. In the case of President Kennedy’s assassination, it is almost certain that a conspiracy of some sort took place.

The important question is to define the extent of that conspiracy. The fewer people and institutions that are required to be involved in a conspiracy, the more credible that conspiracy theory is. In the absence of irrefutable evidence in their favour, theories that propose the alteration of the Zapruder film, or of the president’s corpse, expand the JFK conspiracy beyond reasonable limits.

Irrational Conspiracy Theories are Harmful

Such theories are actively harmful in several ways:

  • they divert effort from areas that may produce genuine results
  • they oblige rational critics of the official explanation to deal with two sets of arguments: the lone–nut arguments and the paranoid theorists’ arguments
  • and they are useful to the print and broadcast media, which defend established institutions by claiming that the lone–nut explanation is more reasonable than the alternative: “OK, so there are lots of holes in the case against Oswald, but you should see some of the stuff those guys are saying.”

Media Misrepresentation

The last of these may be the most serious problem. The media gives little coverage to rational criticism of the official explanation, and tends to portray the JFK assassination debate as a simple conflict between:

  • the lone–assassin hypothesis
  • and outrageously impractical, almost paranoid conspiracy theories.

The media recognises that any reasonable alternative to the lone–nut hypothesis implies criticism of established political institutions. Consequently, it often treats the assassination in much the same way as it treats other forms of political dissent. Just as the media’s coverage of demonstrations tends to concentrate on the handful of idiots or agents provocateurs who throw bricks through windows, so criticism of the Oswald–did–it theory is often represented by the lunatic fringe. In both cases, little publicity is given to rational, critical ideas.

The similarity in each case extends to the target audience. The media’s misrepresentation of the JFK assassination is not aimed primarily at:

  • those who are interested in the subject and are predisposed to think critically such people will hardly be prevented from discovering the large amount of informed criticism that is widely available
  • nor at those who are inclined to identify with established authority they are unlikely to look for critical ideas, or be persuaded by any they stumble upon
  • nor at that relatively small number of people who are liable to be taken in by the more unbelievable conspiracy theories.

Instead, the media’s message is aimed mostly at rational people who are aware that there is a controversy about the facts of President Kennedy’s assassination, but who have no particular knowledge of the assassination itself. By emphasising the less credible conspiracy theories, the media tries to discourage a sizeable part of the general public from exploring the subject.

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26 seconds: The history behind Zapruder's JFK assassination film

Abraham Zapruder, a dressmaker in Dallas, was aiming his 8 mm home movie camera at the presidential motorcade passing in front of him.

For 26 seconds he filmed a murder — the assassination of John F Kennedy.

After having copies of the film made for the authorities, he returned with his film to his house that night, his mind filled with concerns about what he should do with his gruesome home movie.

Her book, Twenty-Six Seconds: A Personal History of the Zapruder Film, takes a close look at the at the film her grandfather shot and the controversy that's followed it since.

"And that there would be a lack of respect for the Kennedy family, and their grief."

"Dallas was a very reactionary city at the time," says Alexandra. "And he was worried that old stereotypes about Jews making money, from not just terrible events but any events, that those types of stereotypes would come back to haunt him."

Alexandra tells Tremonti the obsession some people have with the film is because it doesn't give an absolute answer to what happened that day.

"The film itself embodies these compelling conundrums. It both shows us exactly what happened and it doesn't show us exactly what happened. So people keep looking and looking to try to find the answers."

"And as long as America doesn't have an agreed upon story of how our president got murdered, that remains an open wound."

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Howard Goldenthal.

Is the Zapruder film available online? How can I get a copy of it?

Rebecca Collier 05.02.2018 7:34

Where is the Zapruder film located and how can I get a copy of it?

Re: Is the Zapruder film available online? How can I get a copy of it?
Gene Morris 08.02.2018 13:12 (в ответ на Rebecca Collier)

The original Zapruder film is part of the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection and is in the custody of the Motion Picture Sound and Video unit at the National Archives at College Park. NARA may make a single fair-use copy of the film and sell it to any researcher. However, the copyright for the film is owned by the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas Texas. If you choose to publish the film in any way, you will need to obtain permission from them.

The Zapruder film can viewed online in multiple places. Since they own the copyright, we recommend viewing the version available on Sixth Floor Museum’s website.

Zapruder film: Images as history, pre-smartphone

If anything of consequence occurs in this era of smartphones and multi-G wireless networks, a horde of "citizen journalists" will doubtless be on hand to capture and broadcast the sights and sounds. But of hundreds of witnesses in Dallas's Dealey Plaza on Nov. 22, 1963, only a handful managed to record the biggest news story of a generation: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

And of the documents they produced, only one stands out: the Zapruder film.

It's not much: About 6 feet of narrow, cellulose material, containing fewer than 500 grainy images and running just 26 seconds long. And yet the home movie that clothier Abraham Zapruder shot with his Bell & Howell camera may be the single most important piece of evidence in perhaps the most argued-about crime in the nation's history.

Zapruder was in a unique position to capture the events that day a half-century ago.

Standing on a 4-foot-high concrete pedestal, his receptionist bracing him from behind, the 58-year-old Russian immigrant followed the progress of JFK's Lincoln limousine as it rolled toward him down Elm Street. He thought the popping noises he heard were part of some joke, he later told the Warren Commission, and "then I saw his head opened up."

"I started yelling, 'They killed him, they killed him,'" he testified before the investigative panel in July 1964. "I was still shooting the pictures until he got under the underpass — I don't even know how I did it."

Tests showed that the camera — loaded with Double 8-millimeter Kodachrome II color film — recorded at an average speed of 18.3 frames per second. Depending on how much film leader and unexposed black footage are counted, there are either 486 or 487 frames with assassination-related images.

Although there was no sound, the Zapruder film allowed investigators and researchers to establish the interval between gunshots.

Zapruder had the film developed and three copies made — two of which he gave to the Secret Service and FBI.

Richard Stolley, then Pacific bureau editor for Life Magazine, had flown in from Los Angeles and reached Zapruder by phone around 11 p.m. The next morning, he was in Zapruder's office at Jennifer Juniors, Inc., watching the film with two Secret Service agents.

"I have to say, seeing that film and seeing the head shot — the infamous frame 313 — was the most dramatic moment of my career," Stolley recalled in a recent interview. "We all reacted as if we had been simultaneously gut-punched."

Competitors avidly sought the film, too. But in the end, Stolley won out, getting Life the print rights for $50,000. The magazine paid Zapruder another $100,000 the following week for the remaining copyrights.

Aside from some still images, it would be years before the general public saw what Zapruder's camera had captured. (Life even withheld frame 313 "out of deference to the grieving Kennedy family," Stolley has explained.)

In 1969, about a year before his death, Zapruder testified as to the film's authenticity during the New Orleans trial of Clay Shaw, the only person ever prosecuted for the assassination. District Attorney Jim Garrison played the film for the jury 10 times — a scene that formed the dramatic crescendo of Oliver Stone's 1991 film, "JFK."

Most Americans did not see the Zapruder film in motion until March 1975, when ABC News aired a copy during Geraldo Rivera's weekly "Good Night America" show.

The outcry helped spur formation of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, which would famously conclude that the murder was most likely the result of a conspiracy involving multiple shooters.

In April 1975, Time, Inc. transferred the original camera print and copyrights back to the Zapruder family. The National Archives and Records Administration agreed to store the film "as a courtesy."

In 1999, the government agreed to pay Zapruder's family more than $16 million for the film. The Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas owns the copyright.

The original is now housed at the archives' facility in College Park, Md., in a cold-storage vault, where conditions are kept at a constant 25 degrees Fahrenheit and 30 percent relative humidity. On Oct. 22, a technician removed the film from its protective can for its first inspection in 11 years.

"The reel is in excellent condition, has retained the vivid color typical of Kodachrome, and does not exhibit signs of physical deterioration," NARA spokeswoman Miriam Kleiman wrote in an email to The Associated Press.

On Oct. 15, Life released a new book, "The Day Kennedy Died." In its pages for the first time, each of the frames is shown, in order.

In so many ways, the Zapruder film is a relic, says the 84-year-old Stolley, who shared his recollections in the book. If he were dispatched to Dallas today, he says, "I'd be a little nonplused about who do you negotiate with."