Zapruder film: Images as history, pre-smartphone

November 6, 2013 • Entertainment

This image made available by the National Archives shows a 1963-1964 photograph of the movie camera used by Abraham Zapruder when he filmed the moment of the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. Standing on a 4-foot-high concrete pedestal, his receptionist bracing him from behind, the 58-year-old Russian immigrant followed the progress of JFK’s blue Lincoln limousine as it rolled toward him down Elm Street. (AP Photo/National Archives)

If anything of consequence occurs in this era of smartphones and multi-G wireless networks, a horde of “citizen journalists” will doubtless be on hand to capture and broadcast the sights and sounds. But of hundreds of witnesses in Dallas’s Dealey Plaza on Nov. 22, 1963, only a handful managed to record the biggest news story of a generation: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

And of the documents they produced, only one stands out: the Zapruder film.

It’s not much: About 6 feet of narrow, cellulose material, containing fewer than 500 grainy images and running just 26 seconds long. And yet the home movie that clothier Abraham Zapruder shot with his Bell & Howell camera may be the single most important piece of evidence in perhaps the most argued-about crime in the nation’s history.

Zapruder was in a unique position to capture the events that day a half-century Login to read more

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