At the Toronto International Film Festival movies based on true events are the talk of the town this year, Parkland, about the events surrounding President John F. Kennedy’s assassination is no exception.
As the film touches on one of the most traumatic and historical changing events for Americans during the 20th century, reaction has been as expected, intense.
Zac Effron, who is trying to shake off his image of teen idol, does a credible job as Doctor Jim Carrico, the ER physician who would become an unwilling part of history.
Parkland is a re-creation of the three days immediately following the President’s assassination in Dallas, Texas and is presented in flashes of events taking place at Parkland Hospital, were the mortally wounded JFK was taken, and also how Lee Harvey Oswald’s family was reacting.
Parkland also focuses on amateur photographer Abraham Zapruder and the police harassment he suffered because he was caught filming the events on the parade route at the time of the shooting.
At a press conference before the premiere Paul Giamatti, who plays Zapruder said,
“The first day of this movie was my first day on Dealey Plaza. That’s an eerie place anyway,” says Giamatti. “I had to stand up on the thing (Zapruder) stood on, and I had to shout the stuff he shouted. It was odd. It was definitely creepy. It felt out-of-body and strange.”
Colin Hanks, who plays another ER doctor adds, that the goal of the film is to “tell the stories of those people that were on the outer edges of the story that were greatly affected, but are not necessarily the first people you think about when you tell the story.”
Efron’s character, who is not only directly charged with trying to save the President when he comes in barely alive, but also responsible for trying to save his alleged killer just two days after.
“It was hugely educational for me. I knew very little about this day. For me, it’s always been shrouded in a lot of mystery and various conspiracy theories. It was nice to see a succinct telling of what really happened on this particular day.”
Talking about the scene in which Efron’s character refuses to accept that Kennedy is dead and keeps trying to resuscitate him, he says that it was odd because the actor portraying JFK looked like him and he was so enthralled in his role that he thought he broke his ribs.
“We were seriously concerned about breaking this guy’s ribs,” Hanks adds. “We had to give compressions for like an hour. My shoulders got incredibly sore.”
Efron, 25, said he had to consciously think of how to say things since people spoke differently than he does today.
Parkland is directed by Peter Landesman and stars Zac Efron, Paul Giamatti, Colin Hanks, James Badge Dale, and Billy Bob Thornton.
[Image via American Film Company]