How a movie helped released the JFK files

Don’t underestimate the ability of movies to change history

2029 was supposed to be the year when the controversial JFK assassination records would be released after being concealed to the public through decades. But on 1992 George H.W. Bush and the US Congress moved the date to October 26, 2017. Many wondered, why the change of heart?

In 1991 Oliver Stone released the drama JFK where Kevin Costner played New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison. A man that believed there was more to the assassination of the President of the United States John F. Kennedy than the official story presented by government agencies like the CIA. In the film’s last scene a closing statement explained the existence of the JFK files and the information that they will be released in 38 years.

According to the site 2017 JFK, “the tidal wave of letter-writing and phone-calling to Washington D. C. that followed the film precipitated a congressional decision to speed up the declassification of those files.”

Even though the film was criticized for its historical inaccuracies. The story combined with Costner’s powerful performance and an all-star cast, that included Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Oldman, Jack Lemmon, Sissy Spacek and Joe Pesci, won two Oscars and obtained six nominations.

Oliver Stone’s movie became part of the 90s pop culture and fueled the fire of JFK conspiracy theories fan. The film became so mainstream that the “magic bullet” scene, where Costner explains how unlikely a single bullet could have caused all of the seven wounds that seriously injured Texas governor, John Connally, and President Kennedy was hilariously parodied in an episode of the sitcom Seinfeld.



The public interest created by Oliver Stone’s movie pressured Congress in the 90s to take action. In 2017 thousands of documents have recently been made available to the public but a significant quantity of revealing material still remains partially redacted or withheld in full.

Ana Victoria Torres

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  • Business Insider: “The long-awaited release of 3,000 previously-classified documents relating to the assassination of John F. Kennedy may not have happened for years were it not for a blockbuster 1991 film”… Full article 


  • Vanguardia: “Las presiones del FBI y la CIA evitan la divulgación de los documentos más comprometidos por motivos de “seguridad nacional”… Artículo completo   


  • Paris Match: L’administration américaine a bien mis en ligne des milliers de documents relatifs à l’assassinat de John F. Kennedy” … Article complet 


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