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  • Summary: Virtual JFK investigates one of the most debated “what if” scenarios in the history of U.S. foreign policy: What would President John F. Kennedy have done in Vietnam if he had not been assassinated in 1963, and had he been re-elected in 1964? The resulting film employs what Harvard historian Niall Ferguson calls “virtual history,” assessing the plausibility of counterfactuals—“what ifs”—and the outcomes they might have produced. The film-makers use of an array of resources including recently declassified and never-before-seen archival footage, documents, and audio tapes, and testimony form a critical oral history conference including Kennedy and Johnson administration officials. The heart of the film deals with the question: Does it matter who is president on issues of war and peace? (Global Media Project) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 9
  2. Negative: 0 out of 9
  1. Reviewed by: Gary Goldstein
    80
    Director Koji Masutani has masterfully assembled a wealth of archival footage, photos and audiotapes, some of which has been recently declassified.
  2. Contrary to its title, Virtual JFK is less a counter-history of the Vietnam years than a tribute to John F. Kennedy's stubborn resistance to a military that pressured him to go to war on six occasions during his short presidency.
  3. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    75
    The film does, however, assemble an amazing array of recorded conversations and vintage newsreel, and offers up enough press conference footage to make one nostalgic for the days when an uncowed, penetrating press really did serve the public interest, and the president was a smart, inspirational and often very funny figure who could think on his feet and fearlessly take on all comers.
  4. 60
    An elegantly constructed if misleadingly titled class lecture.
  5. Many of the film's most entertaining moments are, ironically, its most peripheral: Namely, the extensive archival clips of news conferences in which an alternately relaxed and tense Kennedy jostled with journalists
  6. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    50
    Most useful and enlightening as a historical tour through the major crises of the Kennedy administration.
  7. Directed by Koji Masutani, this speculative, provocative, frustrating and finally unpersuasive historical gloss races quickly and all too lightly over the major political crises that John F. Kennedy faced during his aborted presidency.

See all 9 Critic Reviews