tv Tavis Smiley PBS November 14, 2013 12:00am-12:31am PST
tavis: good evening evening from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. tonight, a conversation with oliver stone. the writer and director of some of the most successful movies in recent memory. his recent film "jfk" was the in 1998.y released it is now in re release on blu- ray and in select movie theaters. we are glad you joined us for a conversation with oliver stone coming up right now. ♪
controversial stories in america. "jfk was quote has been re- released on blu-ray and in select theaters. realized kennedy was so dangerous to the establishment. is that why? >> that is a real question, isn't it? why? the how and the who is just scenery for the public. -- it keeps, cuba asking theng from most important question. why was kennedy killed? who benefited? who has the power to cover it up? tavis: welcome back, first of all. is there anything about what you 1991 with "jfk" that you have rethought, the
regret, that you would do differently? >> i looked at it a few days ago and i feel it is a strong film, especially on the evidence base is, the autopsy, -- on the evidence, the ballistics, the autopsy. we don't try to make it into a false hero. he show that the case was always soft but that he brought out a lot of evidence that was later used in became important. tavis: a lot of things -- it occurs to me every time i see it with castingo do and you directing and a lot to do with their gifts and their talents, but the acting in this just holds up. these guys are so gifted. sutherland and costner, the entire cast, tommy lee jones. >> everyone is a face.
is incredible. gary oldman as oswald. i love the cast. --re were seven signposts there were signposts. it is a competent story and the audience could lose some of those signposts. you remember who the people are. to ask if youoing thought this project may have been received different leave he did not have an all-star cast of a with less recognizable cases. we might've gotten lost in the storyline. >> i think it helped a lot. it was a fun movie in terms of tension. it keeps your interest. it grips you. it was a rough opening because, although we got eight nominations, oscar nominations, and two wins, it was a controversial time and we were scolded. the mainstream media attacked the film before he was sought.
film six" attacked the was before it came out and called it hokum. there is always interest in denying the evidence that has been submerged in this case. is this fervid belief that oswald did it alone and you have to believe that. and whenever people fight against that, they are always ridiculed and marginalized. i include the entire radical community that -- entire vertical community. at the time i'm a how did you process the scolding, as you put it, that you are taking from the media? we've concerned that it would hurt your opening-day box office? everyone was piling on before it came out. >> i was naïve. i was hot from the movie, off of "the tune," "born on the fourth
of july," "wall street." i was able to take it. this was a public arena. i had taken all of my -- what do you call it come all the heat and he went into all of this movie. very complex. it might bomb at the box office, but i don't care. i'm going to make this movie because i deleted it. and think of the box office was there from -- because i believe in it. and thank god for the box office. it was there. i was arguing with the dan rather's of the world and all the naysayers. i never talk the attitude that movie. i felt responsible for the work. tavis: why did you feel that that movie had to make a statement? why did you can do so much of yourself to get out that storyline? myth that national
has to be looked at. it is crucial to where we are today. what we try to say in the movable -- in the movie and in this untold story was that kennedy was significantly different than eisenhower before him and different from johnson after him. those three years with the beginning of a detente with the soviet union, a feeling for peace, a seeking out of a new ally with the soviet union, the end of the cold war, as kennedy called it at his university speech. pax of american war. presidents,merican next to roosevelt, he is the only mac and president to play -- you paid thomas to the contributions of the soviet that paid homeomage -- who
edge to the contributions of the soviet union in world or two. tavis: -- in world war ii. tavis: they are still of the same mind, whether you're talking rather poor robert don't believe evidence that suggests anything other than oswald acted alone. >> let me just say that i don't want to be a hard. i am open to suggestions. i have read the book since then. our book led to the jfk act which opened documents. new books have come out and i would like to mention those books, too. i want to go back in aden fonzi's book, "investigation." "breach of trust" in 2005 come i believe. -- in 2005, i believe.
a new book came out called "claiming parkland." he really takes apart, and deconstructs this book by vincent bugliosi that has gotten so much play in the mass media. issounds very massive and it visited as a prosecutor's argument. apart bit by bit and it is a very powerful book. a small publisher, skype or sooner your, but a good book. don't forget john neumann's " book. that is why i take the time. i say, as a filmmaker, as a dramatist, you have to pay attention to two very important pieces of information. motions of kennedy in in thatord are film.
film, you see that kennedy is shot from two sides. he is shot from the back and from the front. there is no contesting that. in the time frame, it is impossible for it to be otherwise. he is shot from the front through the neck and the kill frame 313e head in where he goes back into the left. he is shot from the back in the back. he is shot from the rear in the -- in the lee is shot back. nelly is shot with another bullet. there is at least five bullets. is impossible that all those shots came from the rear. including this magic bullet, which is invented by alan spector, guided through the witnesses, and that magic bullet causes seven words into people.
those two things. stick with the evidence. tavis: why is it to your mind at least that this matters 50 years later? that is to say who killed kennedy? what is that it meant -- why does that matter? >> we feel that it was a crime committed by the state. not the whole state, but by members of the military intelligence and security a huge beef had with kennedy because of his policies. as i said earlier, he was leading the united states into a new position with the soviet union. he was calling for the end of the cold war. he would have been reelected in 19 six to four because he was vastly popular and he also had a 1964 because he was vastly popular and he also had a brother. they were looking at a new dynasty in american politics,
the kennedy dynasty. there was a space treaty in the works with khrushchev jeff. there was a limited test ban treaty that had been signed in 1963. this was a single or achievement of the kennedy administration. he signaled his intentions with vietnam. he had no desire to involve combat troops in that area. he also signaled his attention to cuba. he was looking for a worldwide renegotiation. that ended on november 22. since then, we have not had one president who has been able to stand up to this military industrial security complex. it has only gotten worse and bigger. it is almost as if we have a shadow government running this country that makes the real decisions. the man that we talked about last year, mr. obama. we had real hopes for him. right away, he caved on afghanistan. what he has said since then is an extension of the military industrial security state.
now it is global. the soviet union ended in 1991, but we didn't stop growing. now we are listening on the whole world. we have space weaponry. we have drowned weaponry. we have cyber warfare. we have the -- we are the strongest country in the world bar none. no one can stand up to us. tavis: what do you make of the high hopes that you and others had for this president on this and other issues? let's just stay with the spying and the drones in the torture. -- and the torture. >> i am really surprised. i really believed in obama. i believed in transparent government policies and none of that has transpired. on the contrary, he is a better manager of the empire than bush ever was. it is wrong. he is a constitutional s cholar.
bush made a fatal flaw. we were attacked by terrorists. instead of hunting down those people through intelligence, informers, through the usual process is by which the entire by whichow processes the entire world uses, he waged war and he said that you're either with us or against us and he divided the world right than. he made six countries suspect. essentially, the united states government makes us, the citizens of our own country and citizens abroad, suspects. we are all suspects. it is not just for terrorists. because i'm not a terrorist and you are not a terrorist. but we are all fearful that whatever we do and think and act comically want to form a new association, if we want to protest an essay policies, we are always being listened to. what is your read on some
of these polls that suggest that the new -- the majority of the american people don't care so much about being spied on. i'm not a terrorist. i am not doing illegaanything i. back to the civil rights movement. you remember martin luther king. since the 1930s, j edgar hoover was listening into all of the civil rights leaders. he thought communism was behind it. the anti-vietnam war protest would've had informers all over it. the government has sealed this vacuum. so anything that is a protest movement will be subject to severe, severe penetration by the government. that is what you should fear. the civil rights may not have happened the way it happened. in other words, everything is positive for change that comes up in social life, we need change in our life, when those things happen, they will be able
to happen because the government will be there to stamp down on it. tavis: who knows what kennedy would have done on vietnam? we can debate that for hours. what we do know is that john kerry, obama's secretary of state, fought in that war and, on "meet the press was quote, gregory tried to hit him to speak on a statement that he suggested that he doesn't believe that oswald acted alone. this thing is still being debated all these years later. is reasonable and looks at the evidence nose at the has to be at least two shooters, the kennedy was shot from the front and the back. that is an contestable to me. i do believe oswald was in the window but that is not the point . there's a guy at the fence. that is the shot.
you have to stand by the fence to kill him. you have to get him in an ambush. it was very precise shooting, not with some phony little americana world war ii weapon. tavis: obama, as we know, has received more death threats than any president in the history of the nation. a conspiracythat can happen today without us finding out about it in this age of technology? >> it would be a lot harder. i got away with a lot in 1863. but it do think you create an atmosphere around it -- in 1963. but you do create an atmosphere around it. cocoon wherea everyone around me president, especially these days, is a military person or security person, an intelligent person.
he is always being briefed. you hear about death threats about yourself come about your country and you know that you will be the president on this watch if there is a terrorist attack and you will be blamed by the opposition. so it becomes an increasingly rigid five double that you're living in. rigidifiedngly bubble that you are living in. and you become of the mentality like bush. you are either one of them or one of us. to the iraq war veterans was filled with all the lies that bush told us. even today, on the football game yesterday, i saw again they were saying these are the veterans day and he served in iraq on the war on terror. he did not serve in iraq on the war on terror. the war on terror was in afghanistan. terror.n the war on
but now it is all part of our vocabulary. we are using orwellian terms durin. war on terror is a crazy expression for a limited war. hisy beetavis: you don't thinkt policies has done in thing to offend the tea party -- i'm just pressing you on this and i don't necessarily disagree that he hasn't done nearly as much as we hoped he would have done, has not been aggressive enough, has not been aggressive enough -- i'm with you on that durin. but there is something that has the opposition so hard on him. >> i know what you're saying. i really think that he is black has a lot to do with it. i don't know why these
republican white people -- frankly, the o'connells -- the mcconnells -- it is like they are still fighting for the rights of whites in africa. so they are scared. tom delay is another one of those horrible white people who come along and they go back -- tavis: it's so funny to watch you do that. >> they have taken democracy away from us. elected by a be million and a half votes in 2012 and have the house of representatives so singly republican? that to me is the result of gerrymandering. also their stand on guns, on what rights, the concept of blocking the voting of blacks and hispanics, it adds up. i would think that they are very scared -- tavis: that is what i was getting at. they are threatened by something. it is not that he is doing a thing. >> they are threatened by the
fact that he is black. that is enough. tavis: you have the untold history of the united states. we want to talk about this series. it is complete now. almost all saw of it. it is richly done. it is out on dvd now. >> blu-ray. a dvd download. tavis: excuse me. i am talking to a director. you can't make those kinds of mistakes. >> blu-ray is very good and good quality for archival footage. back on this look project, i assume you are pleased with it. >> my love of this country from -- actually from 1898 -- i was born in 1946 -- i'm not going to go too far -- but since the 1940s on, we moved into this national security state.
i would love to have another generation see this -- tavis: is it too late to get it right? >> no, it isn't. tavis: we haven't gone so far that we can swing back? >> i like to believe that there are still good people in this country. i was in the soviet union right before it fell in 1983. under communism, i was doing a film about to do since who were fighting the regime. they had no incentives to work. the economy was dead. there was no compassion between people. the leadership was cynical. that, byhought in 1983 1986, it would start to shift. that gorbachev, who was a product of that system would be an instrument, an agent of change, as obama said. so sometimes you don't know. that soviet union fell within seven years. you never know. there could be a guy who comes from inside our system who literally can't do something.
tavis: every empire in the history of the world has at some point faltered or failed. i don't know if it is our arrogance or in hubris are our nationalism that will not allow us to consider but that could happen to us, but is that a possibility? >> the main danger that we face is our own flaws. a reminder, hitler in 1941 was at his peak. for seven ors eight years. he conquered all of europe. he was ready to go into the east end into russia. -- into the east and into russia. this thing would start to fall by 1945, 3 years. the british empires always thought, before world war i, that britannia would rule the waves forever. it fell within to yours -- two wars. american overreach with two wars, spending 43% on military
came we have 6000 bases. we spent too much on the military. martin luther king says that we are spending $50 for every poor person in this country. that is insane. that is what we are doing. we are militarizing every problem. we are not refreshing or rebuilding america. we have to change our priorities. that is what many good leaders have done. kennedy, robert kennedy, they were talking that way. unfortunately, they were all brought down. who will start talking that way again? simple terms. tavis: the may conclude where we began this conversation. this thing has everything in it. >> the directors cut, which is 20 minutes longer than the theatrical film. we have my commentary. we have chapter six, jfk to the brink, the and told story, the
update to the jfk history. no assassination speculation. the hard facts of the kennedy administration. and we have pt 109 with cliff roberts, the movie on kennedy's exploit in the south pacific. three documentaries. photos. speeches by kennedy, etc. tavis: oliver stone has a product, y'all. it's all good stuff. i am always happy to have you on this program. good to see you, oliver. that is our show for tonight. thank you for watching. as always, keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley pbs.org.g -- at tavis: join me for next conversation with mary j. blige.