Wednesday, December 28, 2016

I wonder what JFK would think of this

At the Tropic Cinema in Key West, the Seward Johnson sculpture of Marilyn stands before the poster of Jackie. Icon vs. icon. Carnality vs. elegance. Mistress vs. wife. What an odd coincidence!

Henry and I saw Jackie, a most intense movie. And close to the facts as established by reputable historians and oral histories. We have a tendency to forget what a violent crime that assassination was, and this movie is unflinching in portraying the brutality. The brains on her face. The blood in her hair. According to this account, her strength and resolve were unleashed by the savagery of the crime. Henry was so moved by what went on in the backseat of that Lincoln Continental that he actually began to cry.

But my favorite scene was a wordless one toward the end of the film. She tells the reporter -- obviously modeled on Theodore White -- that she wants to see his article before it's submitted. He looks at her with great skepticism, since journalists of his caliber don't show their work to their subjects. A few moments later, there she is, his pad in her lap and his pencil in her hand. "That's my girl!" I whispered to Henry. Was she right to personally edit the first draft of history? No. But it gave her the illusion of control at a time her world went mad, and I admire her for doing what she believed needed to be done for her family and for her sanity.

"Do you know who James Garfield was?" she asks the ambulance driver who drove her and her husband's casket away from Parkland Hospital back to Air Force One. "What about William McKinley?" When the driver can't answer, you can see the wheels turning. The horror had to mean something. Her husband would not be forgotten. She would not allow it.

Natalie Portman did a wonderful job in the title role. I'm glad that future generations will see that there was a brain beneath that pillbox hat.

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