On November 22, 1963, a Dallas dressmaker named Abraham Zapruder picked up an 8mm ciné camera, left his office in the Dal-Tex building and walked 50 yards down the road to Dealey Plaza, with the intention of filming President John F. Kennedy's motorcade as it passed down Elm Street.

By a strange coincedence, he happened to stand in almost exactly the same position that a professional film-maker would have set up, had he known that the President was going to be assassinated. The 30 seconds of film which he captured have since gone down as the most famous amateur movie ever made.

The original film was sold to Time-Life for $25,000, which Zapruder donated to the Texas Police Benevolent Fund with the intention of helping the widow of Officer Tippett, who was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald as he attempted to escape. Time published some stills from the film in the December issue, but the full film was not seen in public until it was shown to the jury at the trial of Clay Shaw in 1968.

The film is considered by many, both on the conspiracy and non-conspiracy side, to be the most vital piece of material evidence available in the matter of the Kennedy assassination.

Addendum 23-02-03: kthejoker points out that people with a flash-enabled browser and a fast connection can view the "critical moment" of the film frame-by-frame at www.warrencommission.com. Sadly, it *only* shows the critical moment, so you can't use it to view the things I talk about in my other JFK nodes. Sorry.


The above link currently has downloads of the Zapruder film. The download of this version has footage missing, as the limo rounds the corner at the beginning of the shot. I think, though, that this is the complete footage, that Abraham Zapruder just paused the camera until the president's car was in view. He saw the motorcycles coming, but it is several seconds before the president's limo rounds the corner. It is understandable that he might pause the camera as those little film reels didn't yield much more than thirty seconds or so of film, he wanted to make sure he didn't waste footage.

When the car and JFK are in frame, he has stopped waving, as if he heard something. (Shot one.) He continues waving, then the car is obscured as it goes behind the large road sign in front of Zapruder. When it emerges, we see Kennedy has been hit. (Shot two.) He is clutching his throat and looking down at his chest. This was the one that went through the knot of his tie. Governor Connally has turned around, looking to see what's happening. We see he is holding his hat. Kennedy is then thrown forward by the third shot which hits him in the back. (shot three.) The fourth shot misses Kennedy and hits Connally in the back. (shot four- shot five misses again and hits the underpass.) Then as the car passes by the camera, the final shot, number six, can be seen entering Kennedy's head by his right eyebrow. Jackie immediately climbs up onto the rear of the car, apparently in her shock, to gather up her husband's brain matter. A secret service agent climbs up onto the bumper to get Mrs. Kennedy back into the car. It then disappears screen right behind the infamous picket fence on the grassy knoll.

This film is the best argument for anyone who says Oswald was the lone gunman, if he was a gunman at all. The way Kennedy's body moves when hit, and the visible result of the exit wounds, clearly shows that Kennedy was shot at least twice from the front. The first shot was probably fired from the grassy knoll, since both Kennedy and Connally look slightly to their right at the moment Kennedy stops waving. The fourth shot, also missing the car completely, must have been fired from the Dal-Tex Building, judging by where it ended up, striking the triple overpass and wounding onlooker James Tague's cheek with a chunk of pulverized concrete. The other telling hole in the Warren Report is that the magic bullet theory has the bullet stopping one and a half seconds between Kennedy's body and Governor Connally's, since the film shows that much time passing between when JFK is apparently shot, and when Connally is. For the lone gunman theory to work, it had to fit in with the three shells found by the gun in the book depository. This confined them to only two shots hitting anybody at all, since photos of Tagues' wounds were already published in the news.

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