Using an 8mm Bell and Howell motion picture camera, Dallas Abraham Zapruder captured the most complete photographic record of the assassination. The infamous Zapruder frame 313 depicts the fatal head shot. Clocking the footage at 18fps has established a 5.6 second timeframe in which the 3 shots had to have been fired. Note as the president’s head jerks back and to the left after the last shot. Conspiracy theorists claim this is evidence of a frontal shot, possibly from the knoll. But the jet effect of an exit wound can also cause the same movement.
In recent years, the authenticity of the Zapruder film has been called into question, with several researchers claiming that the film has been modified. The notion of a “Zapruder Hoax” has started a lively debate in the JFK research community and at times created a rift between various researchers who generally agree on other topics. Advocates of Zapruder film alteration point to various irregulaties with the Stemmons freeway sign, the foreground lampost, human figures, and the sprockets on the left side of the film. Discrepencies between eyewitness testimony and what can be seen in the film have also caused some to believe in Z-film alteration. Perhaps the most common notion is that frames were removed from the film, possibly to cover up a reported halt of the Presidential limousine. The most compelling Z-film alteration theory posits that the President’s head wound was modified by visual effects artists to remove evidence of an exit wound in the rear of the head, and thus corroborate the theory that the fatal shot originated from behind the vehicle. Thanks to the efforts of ARRB guru Douglas Horne, a team of Hollywood film experts was assembled to determine if visual effects were used to modify the head wound. Seven out of the seven members of this committee concluded that the wound depicted in the Zapruder film was indeed modified. Did this panel of experts begin their investigation with prec0nceived notions, or did they arrive at their conclusions objectively? Mr. Horne posits that the only way we’ll ever be sure if that the Zapruder film is authentic is to reshoot the assassination sequence with Mr. Zapruder’s original camera, which is currently on loan to the Six Floor Museum from the National Archives.
When we look back on the age of camera phones, camcorders, Youtube, and user-generated motion picture content, Abraham Zapruder will be the forefather of a generation, his Zapruder film the prophecy for an era. It is perhaps the most important flicker of flames in the brief history of moving pictures. It has been sold for small fortunes, locked in vaults, subpoenaed by law enforcement agencies, brought to light, broadcast on television, projected onto the Hollywood silver screen, streamed across the world via internet, and now available to you on whatever personal media device you are using to read this content. All this for a little film captured by a dressmaker with an 8mm Bell and Howell and Kodak film, as history drove by one day in Dallas.