Report (1967)


Report (1967)

Genre: Experimental Short

Starring: John F. Kennedy, Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis

Directed By: Bruce Conner (A MovieMarilyn Times Five)

Overview: The day of John F. Kennedy’s assassination is recounted through archive found video and radio footage experimentally edited.

Report opens with audio footage reporting live from a confused scene where, apparently, the president’s vehicle may have been attacked. The intensity places us firmly in the moment. The reporter’s barely-contained agitation makes for a dramatic entry into a time capsule of historic news. Throughout this introduction of Report - and for several minutes - what we see is either a black screen or a screen that flashes from black to white. This flashing wasn't pleasant. It was easier for me to turn my head and take down some notes for this review.


The editing style of the film repeats shots deliberately, like a broken record. It’s not usually annoying - in fact I found it unique - but there is one ‘scene’ that repeats too quickly. The shot of the motorcade is another one that is quite difficult to watch. It cuts too quickly, then skips back and repeats again. This also made me prefer to look away and take notes than to invite eyestrain.

The 15-minute avant-garde experimental film has a distinctive documentary feel. The narration is all; there’s no music or other noise aside from the reporting. The first half of Report doesn’t linger however. The film takes a dynamic, staccato turn, jumping from a gory bull flight to a commercial for a freezer to clips of JFK visiting with people and exiting planes, to a slow motion shorts of a bullet flying through a lightbulb. The Statue of Liberty is juxtaposed with an atomic explosion, shots fly in reverse, upside-down and in negative, set against the consumerism and the doomed motorcade all while the narration confirms the death of President John F. Kennedy.


Maybe it was my mood; maybe it was the subject matter being audibly dynamic and interesting, but for all my doubts and the sum of its parts, I enjoyed Report quite a bit. In fact I’d say it was even too short. I expected a ‘third act’ of sorts, a conclusionary chapter. We experienced the confusion of the first few moments, we heard the report that the predident had been killed... I would've enjoyed another few minutes talking about the aftermath: the funeral or the assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald. That would have helped wrap up everything nicely for me.

As complaints go, "I would have liked to have seen more," is a pretty good one.


Performance: 8 Cinematography: 7 Script: 8 Plot: 7 Mood: 8

Overall Rating: 76% (Concise and To The Point)

Yes, dear readers, this is not for the mainstream. This is the sort of study film that finds a home only among the pages of the cinephile’s study. Fellow clubber Thomas Ostrowski, in his own review, said that it was too hard a film to find, and that director Bruce Conner’s more available A Movie would have suited us 1001 Clubbers just as well. Personally I’m of the opinion that a book like 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die should indeed lean more towards giving completists a fighting chance in finding the items it contains. I've learned long ago that if it's impossible to find a film in this day and age, it's usually quite a terrible thing, worthy of being lost to the ages.

Lucky this one wasn't a stinker.

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