The Kennedy assassination and all the conspiracy theories that envelop it like a fog (more than 2,000 books have been written on the topic) demand a documentarian with a hint of madness. The endless false trails, contradictory evidence and bizarre twists—New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison’s loony efforts at code breaking, the Mafia moll who was also a “personal friend” of Kennedy’s—seem ideally suited to Errol Morris, whose films often feel like manifestations of OCD.
Robert Stone (no relation to Oliver) is no Errol Morris. Though he adopts some of Morris’s trademark tics—returning to the same footage numerous times, interviews done in tight close-up, haunting repetitive score—he lacks the intensity that the director of The Thin Blue Line brings to bear. Oswald’s Ghost moves through the assassination, Oswald’s death, the Warren Commission and the blossoming of conspiracy theories with workmanlike clarity, laying out the facts (or, if you prefer, the alleged facts) and the weird gaps that remain in all explanations. Interviews with Dan Rather, Norman Mailer, historian Robert Dallek, and noted early conspiracy theorists Mark Lane and Edward Jay Epstein are all engaging and informative, and Stone weaves their observations into a clean narrative line. In this case, however, clarity just feels out of place.