1. Getting to know JFK, in public and private. Vintage footage reveals he was smart and witty and calm and at ease with the press. Plus he could speak off the cuff in long, compound sentences. (Sound like anyone we know?) I totally get now why he was so sorely missed.
2. The beautiful musical score by Joshua Kern.
3. A reason not to feel guilty for liking JFK. He is remembered by many as a Cold War hawk who plunged us into the Vietnam War. This film argues that he was actually much more cautious than his advisers wanted, committing only to send advisers rather than troops. What might sound like an academic distinction became a very real one under Johnson’s administration, as he raised the U.S. commitment from 16,000 advisers to 500,000 troops.
4. I learned a lot I didn’t know about early Cold War history, including the genesis of the Berlin Wall.
5. The idea of “what if?” history is fun to think about. The most obvious parallel to “What if JFK hadn’t been assassinated?” is “What if a few more Florida Democrats had voted in 2000?”
6. Amusing footage of a male reporter trying to describe Jackie’s outfit.
7. The narration by international studies scholar James Blight, which allows for a smooth unfolding of the thesis: It matters who we elect as President.
Bonus: Wilton Fowler, Professor Emeritus of United States Diplomatic History at the University of Washington, will introduce the film Friday night.
Seven Reasons to See Virtual JFK, Opening Friday