Follow TV Tropes


Useful Notes / Zapruder Film

Go To

The most famous and most important home movie ever made.

In 1963 Abraham Zapruder was a 58-year-old Dallas resident who owned a downtown clothing business. Upon hearing that President John F. Kennedy's motorcade was going to pass close by his place of work, Zapruder took his 8-mm Bell & Howell Zoomatic home movie camera and went to Dealey Plaza to film the motorcade. Zapruder stood atop a concrete column on the north side of Elm Street, with his receptionist Marilyn Sitzman standing behind him to steady him. He took 26.6 seconds of footage over 486 frames. The film opens with a brief shot of police motorcycles, after which Zapruder stopped filming, realizing that the presidential car hadn't yet arrived. The footage then picks up with the presidential car after it turned on to Elm Street, then shows the reactions of Kennedy and Governor John Connally after the car passes from behind a freeway sign, then shows in graphic detail — at Frame 313 — the head shot that killed Kennedy as the car passed directly in front of Zapruder. Zapruder kept filming until the car went under the triple overpass to his right.


Still frames from the film were published in the next week's LIFE Magazine, and drawings based on the film were included in the 1967 book Six Seconds in Dallas, but the film was not shown for the American public until it was aired on ABC in 1975. It is now widely available on the Internet in various formats—digitally cleaned up versions, versions centering on the occupants of the car in close-up, and frame-by-frame presentations (see here). Abraham Zapruder died in 1970. After years of litigation the Zapruder family sold the original film to the U.S. government in 1999 for $16 million. Both the film and Zapruder's camera are the property of the National Archives. The Zapruder family donated the copyright of the film to the Sixth Floor Museum in 1999.

Home movies taken by observers Marie Muchmore, Orville Nix, and Charles Bronson (not the actor) depict the fatal headshot, but none with as much clarity or nearly as close as the Zapruder film. The Zapruder Film was inducted in the National Film Registry with the class of 1994, and has since entered the Public Domain.



How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: