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Parkland & other top American history dramas on film


Feature by Jack Foley

PARKLAND is a historical drama recounting the chaotic events that occurred in the Parkland hospital and elsewhere in Dallas following John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

In anticipation of the release of the new movie on Friday, November 22, 2013, we are taking a look at the top American historical drama films in cinema.

Lincoln (2012)

Directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln is a historical drama that follows the final four months of Lincoln’s life, primarily focusing on his efforts to have the thirteenth amendment to the United States Constitution passed by the House of Representatives.

The film was nominated for 12 Academy Awards winning Best Achieving in Production Design and Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role.

Argo (2012)


This nail biting thriller follows a CIA agent as he instigates an undercover mission to rescue six Americans in Tehran during the U.S. hostage crisis in Iran in 1980. The film is based on the CIA operative Tony Mendez’s book The Master of Disguise and The Great Escape by Joshuah Bearman.

Argo received widespread acclaim and seven Academy Award nominations and won three, for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Editing and Best Picture. The film also won five Golden Globe Award nominations, winning Best Motion Picture – Drama and Best Director.

Apollo 13 (1995)

The incredibly journey of Americas’ third Moon landing aboard Apollo 13 is portrayed through this docudrama film directed by Ron Howard, starring Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon and Bill Paxton. Surviving an on-board explosion which deprives the spacecraft of most of its oxygen supply and electric power, forcing an abort mission and struggling to get home, the film is packed with non-stop suspense.

Apollo 13 received critical acclaim and was nominated for nine Academy Awards, winning two. The film grossed over $335 million worldwide during its theatrical release and is an American classic.

JFK (1991)


A political thriller that had the conspiracy theorists in raptures, Oliver Stone’s movie nevertheless had plenty to offer with its take on the events that followed the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the alleged subsequent cover-up as seen through the eyes of former New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner).

After a slow start at the box office, the film gradually picked up momentum, earning over $205 million in worldwide gross. JFK was nominated for eight Academy Awards (including Best Picture) and won two, Best Cinematography and Best Film Editing.

Thirteen Days (2000)

The Kennedys feature again in Roger Donaldson’s compelling drama about the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, as seen from the perspective of the US political leadership. Kevin Costner stars, with Bruce Greenwood featured as John F. Kennedy.

Based on the book, The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis by Ernest May and Philip Zelikow, the film follows Kennedy and his advisers as they come up with a plan of action to prevent the activation of nuclear missiles by Communists in Cuba. It received widespread crticial acclaim.

W. (2008)

Josh Brolin in W.

Oliver Stone this time took on the life and presidency of George W. Bush, from his early, alcohol-driven years existing in the shadow of his father, to his ascent to President of the United States and his subsequent involvement in the War on Terror.

As with most Stone films of a political nature, the film drew a mixed response with some praising its sensitive portrayal of Bush (of whom Stone was a fierce critic), while others dismissing it as pure fabrication and “high-grade, unadulterated hooey”. Two of its stars, Josh Brolin as W and Richard Dreyfuss as Dick Cheney, did however win almost universal plaudits.

Parkland (2013)

One of the most shocking moments in TV history, and a major event in the history of the United States and the wider world, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy set in motion events that would change lives, and the world, forever.

The new film Parkland retraces the actions of some of the lesser-known players on that fateful day in 1963 – the staff of the Parkland Hospital, some of the bystanders, and members of the FBI and Secret Service.

A must-see, delving into the details of the people behind the scenes, Parkland is the latest film to show an important drama in US history.

Read our review of Parkland

Parkland is released in the UK on November 22, 2013.