2003 – 2 hours 50 minutes. What’s at stake is our trust in a coherent reality. That day in Dallas changed the way we think about the world. Powerful events build their own networks of chaos and ambiguity and the assassination of the president has become a landmark in the history of such events. The physical evidence contradicts itself, the eyewitness accounts do not coincide, there are failures of memory, there are conflicting memories. For 40 years, responsible people have disagreed over the number of gunmen, the number of shots, the origin of the shots, the time span between shots, the paths the bullets took, the number of wounds on the president’s body, the size and shape of the wounds, and many other crucial details of the basic investigation.
FRONTLINE’s investigation examines the life and enduring mysteries of Oswald. What makes Oswald so puzzling is that by Nov. 22, 1963, he had apparent links with virtually every group that had a strong motive to eliminate President Kennedy, says William Cran, the documentary’s senior producer. The big question is: Were any of those groups controlling Oswald on the day of the assassination or was he simply in the grip of his own personal confusion – the eccentric mix of political passions and emotional instability that characterized his entire life?
The result of a year-long investigation by more than a dozen reporters and expert consultants, Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald? draws upon hundreds of witnesses, in particular those who closely studied and observed him, as well as documents, photos, and video and audio recordings – many of which had never before been made public – to chronicle Oswald’s life story: from his troubled childhood to his mysterious service in the U.S. Marines that raised questions about his possible connections to U.S. military intelligence.
The program also investigates Oswald’s activities in the late 1950s and early 1960s, including his dramatic defection to the Soviet Union in 1959 and his return to the United States in 1962.