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Archive for June 23rd, 2016

parallax1

by J.D. Lafrance

The 1970s was an era where disco tortured our eardrums and nihilistic cinema ruled an American landscape riddled with a deep distrust of the government brought about by the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Robert F. Kennedy, and Malcolm X, which were still fresh in people’s minds. When The Parallax View was released in 1974, America had just come out of a long and costly war in Vietnam and the Watergate scandal would soon leave the Richard Nixon presidency in tatters. It would be the second film in an unofficial trilogy of paranoid thrillers made by director Alan J. Pakula that included Klute (1971) and All the President’s Men (1976). With these films he was commenting on the times in which he lived – dark and rife with fear and loathing. And Pakula wasn’t alone. The ‘70s was an era that featured some of the best political thrillers ever made with the likes of The Conversation (1974), Three Days of the Condor (1975) and Winter Kills (1979). Arguably, The Parallax View is best of the bunch as it incorporated affectations of a surrealistic style with archetypal thriller conventions to produce a film where nothing is what it seems and good doesn’t always triumph over evil.

Senator Charles Carroll (William Joyce) is an ambitious independent politician rumored to be seeking the Presidential nomination in the coming year. It is July 4 and he’s doing a meet and greet at the Space Needle in Seattle when he’s shot and killed by two assassins dressed as waiters. One of them is killed trying to escape while the other (Bill McKinney) sneaks off in the ensuing chaos and confusion. After months of investigation, an unidentified government committee releases a report that states Carroll was killed by a lone assassin with no evidence of a conspiracy. At the time, this must have reminded people of the findings by the Warren Commission Report on the assassination of John F. Kennedy, which found Lee Harvey Oswald to be the only gunman acting alone.

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