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JFK: The Lost Bullet - Tonight On Four Corners

NewsKevin Perry

FOUR CORNERS – Monday 11 November, 8.30pm ABC1

It's been called the most important piece of film evidence of all time.

Locked away in the vaults of the United States National Archives, the original 8mm film shot by Abraham Zapruder, captured images that showed President John F. Kennedy's assassination.

For decades experts have analysed and re-analysed the film for clues about what happened that day in Dallas. In particular, they have focused on what the film says about the timing of the three shots fired at the President. The timeline is crucial. Experts have reasoned that even an expert marksman would find it impossible to fire three shots in the time the film shows the President first being hit and the motorcade speeding off. 

However a new analysis of the film shows it could be misleading – as the film is not continuous. Close analysis proves that Zapruder began filming, stopped and then continued filming again, as the motorcade carrying the President came into Dealey Plaza and moved down Elm Street.     

Using eyewitness testimony, as well as newly restored and in some cases never-before-seen images of the shooting, JFK: The Lost Bullet takes the Zapruder film as the centrepiece of a re-investigation of the crime. The documentary, made by National Geographic, digitally enhances Zapruder’s film, in combination with several other home movies shot at the time, to throw new light on the assassination.

The new analysis shows that three bullets were fired, but the first bullet (that missed its target) was shot earlier than previously thought. If that is true, it’s possible that Lee Harvey Oswald fired three shots at the motorcade passing below him. It shows the time available was at least eleven seconds, not six seconds as some have said. The first shot was fired while Zapruder was not filming. The second, as the film rolled again, hit both the President and Governor Connally – while the third hit John Kennedy in the head.

Using carefully designed recreations we see it is entirely plausible the first shot, heard around the Plaza by witnesses, hit a traffic light and then the concrete pavement by the side of the road.

This film explains the importance of this so-called “lost bullet”. In that way it makes a vital contribution to understanding what happened that day and points to the possibility that one man, acting alone, could indeed have changed history.

JFK: THE LOST BULLET, produced by National Geographic and presented by Kerry O’Brien, goes to air on Monday 11 November at 8.30pm on ABC1. It is repeated on Tuesday 12 November at 11.35pm. It can also be seen on ABC News 24 on Saturday at 8.00pm and on ABC iview (