->''"To sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards of men."''
-->-- '''Ella Wheeler Wilcox''', in the first words that appear onscreen

''JFK'' is a 1991 film directed and co-written by Creator/OliverStone about the assassination of UsefulNotes/JohnFKennedy and its aftermath, based around the investigation by UsefulNotes/NewOrleans District Attorney Jim Garrison (Creator/KevinCostner). After reading the Warren Report and finding it unsatisfactory, Garrison decides to launch an investigation on his own. After reviewing witness reports and interviewing some people on his own, Garrison becomes convinced Kennedy was killed by a conspiracy, and that all of the suspicious events seem to be circling a Texas businessman named Clay Shaw (Creator/TommyLeeJones), who goes by the alias Clay Bertrand. Shaw has connections to Lee Harvey Oswald (Creator/GaryOldman), the CIA, the FBI, and others.

After his case gains publicity, Garrison is invited to UsefulNotes/WashingtonDC for a confidential meeting. The man (Creator/DonaldSutherland), who goes only by the name "X", says that Garrison is closer to the truth than he thinks, and gives him background information regarding his suspicions that JFK was killed by a conspiracy involving the CIA, the military, and business interests (the "Military-Industrial Complex") in order to, among other things, stop him from bringing UsefulNotes/TheVietnamWar and the UsefulNotes/ColdWar to an end.

Invigorated by this new information, Garrison arrests Shaw for conspiracy and puts him on trial, detailing his entire theory about the assassination and the various inconsistencies with the "official story", most famously the theory of the "magic bullet". Despite his passionate push at the trial (and, as was later revealed, the belief by jury members that there ''was'' a conspiracy) Shaw is acquitted of all charges.

The film was and still is intensely controversial for its liberal use of ArtisticLicense in depicting the events of and around Garrison's investigation, when in reality the movie is ''not'' meant to be the definitive investigation into Kennedy's death, but rather an allegory of the general public's frustration over not knowing the actual truth about the assassination. Or so Stone says, but in other interviews, [[FlipFlopOfGod well...]] Stone released an annotated screenplay with ''all'' of the references.

The movie was a major critical and box office success, winning two UsefulNotes/{{Academy Award}}s (for editing and cinematography), and was nominated for six more, losing Best Picture to ''Film/TheSilenceOfTheLambs''.

Based on the books ''On the Trail of the Assassins'' by Jim Garrison and ''Crossfire'' by Jim Marrs.

Not to be confused with ''Killing Kennedy'', the docudrama about JFK and Oswald which has Oswald as the lone gunman.

!!This film provides examples of:

* ArcWords: "Operation Mongoose".
* ArtisticLicenseHistory: It would be easier to list what the film didn't get wrong, and that's just considering information ''not'' tied to the JFK assassination. Even Oliver Stone has stated regret at not making the film's fictional status clearer.
* UsefulNotes/BayOfPigsInvasion: According to the film, the failure of this and the political fallout that followed may have been first push in what eventually became a conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy.
* BeQuietNudge: More like a GroinAttack punch by Clay as David starts to describe how they could kill JFK.
* BreakingTheFourthWall: The final line of Garrison's closing statement at the trial of Clay Shaw ("It's up to you") is delivered directly to the camera.
* BuryYourGays: David Ferrie.
* CampGay: Clay Shaw. Mrs. Garrison even [[LampshadeHanging questions whether Jim is going after Shaw]] ''[[LampshadeHanging because]]'' [[LampshadeHanging he is gay]] at one point. [[CaptainObvious He denies this.]] However, Shaw only behaves this way during the party. Otherwise, he's StraightGay, if a little upper crust effete (naturally, as during the era he couldn't be open about it).
-->'''Willie:''' He never snap in a million years.[[note]]By "snap", he means the 'gay finger snap'.[[/note]]
* ClusterFBomb: Creator/JoePesci, [[SirSwearsAlot naturally]].
* UsefulNotes/ColdWar: The setting, and part of the plot revolves around it.
* CompositeCharacter: Several, including Willie, the male prostitute played by Kevin Bacon. (See [[http://www.jfk-online.com/jfk100okeefe.html here]] for details.)
* CorruptCorporateExecutive: Another part of the alleged conspiracy. Clay Shaw is a literal example.
* DanBrowned: Holy crap, this is most definitely the case. This film presents outrageous assumptions as absolute proof that JFK's assassination was a giant conspiracy theory. Some of the worst instances of this involve the epileptic being taken to the hospital but never being admitted, then vanishing (absolutely false, he was a man named Jerry Belknap who left the hospital on realizing the doctors were too busy trying to save Kennedy to treat his minor injuries), the smoke on the grassy knoll (the rifles did not produce smoke like that, something Stone learned during filming and had to resort to smoke machines to get the desired effect), the umbrella man signaling the shooters (actually a man named Louie Witt who was waving the umbrella as a deeply-obscure political protest), and the thoroughly debunked "magic bullet" theory (it relies on JFK and Gov. Connally sitting differently than where they were actually sitting), just to name a few. The trial was in reality a complete farce, and was far more outrageous than the film presents it as, and the jury, after hearing everything, only took half an hour to acquit Shaw, because Garrison had absolutely no credible evidence.
* DistinctionWithoutADifference: One clip of an interview with Oswald about three months before the events in Dallas[[note]]He was arrested in New Orleans for a brawl with a gang of anti-[[UsefulNotes/FidelCastro Castro]] Cuban militants and somehow got into a television debate as a result.[[/note]] has him stating about his political beliefs: "I am not a Communist. I am a Marxist-Leninist."[[note]]There is a clear difference between the two, but in 1963, most people would think it's semantics.[[/note]]
* FlameBait: Both the film itself and the in-universe subject matter.
* GayConservative: Willie O'Keefe, who's in jail for gay prostitution, hated JFK for being soft on Communism and for helping civil rights.
* GilliganCut: We get to see Dean Andrews talking to Clay Bertrand immediately after he tells Garrison he never met him.
* GovernmentConspiracy: "X" and (eventually) Garrison, believe this is part of what killed Kennedy.
* HistoricalHeroUpgrade: The real Jim Garrison tried to railroad an innocent man, Shaw, after his investigation came up empty. The trial was a fiasco. Indeed, many conspiracy theorists, that is people who doubted the Warren Commission, protested Garrison's trial and prosecution as tarnishing any genuine grounds for criticism of the official report.
** Arguably, JFK is given one of these so that Stone can portray Lyndon Johnson as a manipulative super-villain who rams the Tonkin Gulf resolution through Congress to get elected. In fact, Kennedy had ''de facto'' committed the US to South Vietnam by the time he was assassinated, and the CIA-backed coup that killed Ngo Dingh Diem and plunged South Vietnam into chaos had already taken place.
** Jack Lemmon's character, Jack Martin, is portrayed as twitchy and evasive but basically honest. In real life, he had, prior to the events of the movie, worked as an abortion provider, and ''bragged about beating a murder rap'' when one of his unfortunate "patients" died. His claims were also ''much'' less credible.
* HistoricalVillainUpgrade: Clay Shaw was, in real life, a RenaissanceMan whose achievements in architecture and theater are nigh-legendary, and who openly supported and backed John F. Kennedy. This film's Clay Shaw is a DepravedHomosexual lunatic. Shaw was admired as a philanthropist and patron of the arts (he was friends with Creator/TennesseeWilliams). Also there's no firm evidence he'd ever even ''met'' David Ferrie or Lee Harvey Oswald.
** Dean Andrews is presented as a sinister manipulator. The real Dean Andrews was described repeatedly as a LargeHam who wouldn't harm a fly.
** As mentioned above, Lyndon Johnson gets this big time.
* ItsAlwaysMardiGrasInNewOrleans: One of Garrison's investigators interviews an informant during a Mardi Gras parade.
* LeaningOnTheFourthWall: Near the end of his monologue, Mr. X says "Don't take my word for it--don't believe me. Do your own work, your own thinking."
* LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters: And even more in the DirectorsCut.
* TheMafia: Another possible contributor to the assassination and cover-up.
* MrExposition: "X" and Garrison. X's monologue lasts over 15 minutes, and Garrison's closing statement at the trial lasts over 20. And yet, thanks to Oliver Stone's direction, it ''never feels slow''.
* {{Narrator}}: Martin Sheen narrates the opening montage.
* OffOnATechnicality: Much of the information about Clay Shaw is thrown out (particularly the fact that he used the alias "Clay Bertrand" while participating in his shady deals) because he didn't have a lawyer present while he was being booked.[[note]]In fact, his lawyer ''was'' in the police station but was involved with other officials, while Shaw was at the booking desk.[[/note]] The movie says this wasn't legally sound, and then implies that it may have been part of the GovernmentConspiracy to keep Shaw from being convicted. In real life, the judge took over questioning when the booking officer was called in and determined that he had badly violated procedure; in turn, the jurors reported in their statements that they were disgusted by Garrison's lack of evidence (their deliberations, including bathroom breaks, lasted a ''half-hour'').
* OvertRendezvous: Garrison and "X" meet in a public park in Washington D.C.
* PoliticallyCorrectHistory: {{Averted}}. The film makes it quite clear that Kennedy was ''not'' popular in the South. Some gentlemen in the bar are actually seen ''cheering'' when they hear that he has been assassinated.
** In addition, the movie doesn't portray Kennedy as being a saint, either. He's said to fund military development only in districts he needs to win his next election.
* PosthumousCharacter: Oswald dies soon after the movie begins, but that doesn't prevent him from appearing in a large number of flashbacks and faux documentary footage.
* ProperlyParanoid: Jim Garrison starts feeling paranoid about what he's getting into even ''before'' he finds bugs planted in his offices.[[note]]For the record, his office was never bugged in real life.[[/note]] Possibly David Ferrie, too.
* RashomonStyle: The film is told largely in flashback by unreliable narrators recounting various versions of events leading up to the Kennedy assassination. The role of Lee Harvey Oswald, in particular, is portrayed variously as lone assassin, innocent patsy, and part of a conspiracy, depending on the point of view of the person narrating that version of events.
* RealityIsUnrealistic: When shooting a flashback to visualize a character seeing smoke come from a rifle at "the grassy knoll" during the shooting, Oliver Stone had to use a smoke machine because modern rifles don't emit enough smoke, ironically disproving some of the claimed evidence for a second gunman there in doing so.
** Unintentional example: one scene features Garrison and one of his staff in the Depository with a gun identical to Oswald's. The staffer quotes the supposed time stated by the Warren Report for Oswald's shots, 5.6 seconds,[[note]]The report actually gives Oswald closer to eight seconds.[[/note]] and then goes through the motions of firing three shots while Garrison times him. Garrison then announces his time as "Six, seven seconds." As numerous people who've timed the scene have reported, Garrison's staffer actually ''makes the shots in 5.6 seconds''.[[note]]It took 2.3 seconds to work the bolt action for Oswald's rifle, so assuming he had the first round chambered in advance, he actually only needed 4.6 seconds.[[/note]]
* ReCut: Creator/OliverStone later released a Director's Cut that ran for 206 minutes. More details here http://www.movie-censorship.com/report.php?ID=93992.
* RewindReplayRepeat: One of the most famous examples during Garrison's closing statement, when he puts the footage of Kennedy being shot in the head on a loop to emphasize the direction:
-->"Back, and to the left. Back, and to the left. [[DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment Back, and to the left]]."[[note]]It turns out this does not mean anything-the impact of a bullet can make one's head go either way, no matter the direction it was fired from.[[/note]]
* ARiddleWrappedInAMysteryInsideAnEnigma: David Ferrie refers to the Kennedy Assassination as "a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma" when trying to convince Jim Garrison to drop his investigation during a paranoia-fueled rant.
* SanitySlippage: David Ferrie, [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ema7lfEAMk in spades]].
* ShoutOut: Sir Walter Scott: "Oh! what a tangled web we weave / When first we practice to deceive!"
** Lee Harvey Oswald's capture at the theater is compared to Josef K's from ''[[Creator/FranzKafka The Trial]]''.
** Alfred Lord Tennyson: "Authority forgets a dying king."
* ShoutOutToShakespeare: [[{{Hamlet}} "One may smile, and smile, and be a villain."]]
** "Like [[Theatre/JuliusCaesar Caesar]], he is surrounded by enemies "
* SpiritualSuccessor: To ''Executive Action'', the first film to outline a conspiracy to kill Kennedy, using the exact same "triangulated fire" theory, complete with the third shot hitting Connally but not Kennedy.
* StraightGay:
** David Ferrie.
** Willie O'Keefe. He swishes when walking up to meet Garrison, but becomes a stereotypical Southern racist railing against JFK at one point.
** Clay Shaw, according to O'Keefe, calling him a "butch john", saying that he wasn't a limp wrist, and wouldn't snap in a million years.
* TotallyRadical: Dean Andrews.
* WhoShotJFK: TheMovie.