Virtual JFK: Vietnam If Kennedy Had Lived (2008) - Rotten Tomatoes

Virtual JFK: Vietnam If Kennedy Had Lived (2008)



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Movie Info

Investigates one of the most debated "what if" scenarios in the history of U.S. foreign policy: What would President John F. Kennedy have done in Vietnam if he had not been assassinated in 1963, and had he been re-elected in 1964? Employed is what Harvard historian Niall Ferguson calls "virtual history," assessing the plausibility of counterfactuals--"what ifs"--and the outcomes they might have produced. Using an array of resources including recently declassified and never-before-seen archival footage, documents, and audio tapes, and testimony from a critical oral history conference, including Kennedy and Johnson administration officials, the question is asked: Does it matter who is president on issues of war and peace?
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Critic Reviews for Virtual JFK: Vietnam If Kennedy Had Lived

All Critics (22) | Top Critics (14)

Fascinating stuff, but after a while the film runs out of things to say and falls back on clichés.

Full Review… | April 9, 2009
Boston Globe
Top Critic

Director Koji Masutani has masterfully assembled a wealth of archival footage, photos and audiotapes, some of which has been recently declassified.

Full Review… | March 20, 2009
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Despite its title, Virtual JFK doesn't imagine a world where JFK survives the events of Dallas and goes on to win a second term as U.S. president. That would be a whole other movie, and a fascinating one at that.

Full Review… | February 27, 2009
Toronto Star
Top Critic

The film is a seductive immersion into an early sixties zeitgeist and Cold War cool.

February 27, 2009
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

The word Iraq is never uttered, but there's no avoiding it as Kennedy asserts during the Bay of Pigs crisis that to attack Cuba, a country that hadn't attacked the United States, would be contrary to our national tradition.

Full Review… | January 8, 2009
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

The controversial process of counterfactual history gets a captivating workout in Virtual JFK.

Full Review… | December 11, 2008
Seattle Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Virtual JFK: Vietnam If Kennedy Had Lived


We can hypothesize about JFK's potential presidency until we are red in our faces, but the dude was assassinated, so our guesses regarding any future paths he might have taken can be little more than that...guesses. LBJ tried to honor Kennedy's legacy by making the same decisions he thought JFK would make, so if you want a real-life example of how Kennedy's presidency might have played out, studying President Johnson's tenure would be way more informational than watching this fluffy piece of mental masturbation.

Craig Burgess
Craig Burgess

An intriguing film that explores both Kennedy and Johnson's opinions pertaining to Vietnam, and while both were Democrats, I would think that many viewers would be surprised to find that Johnson was much more assertive in deploying troops whereas Kennedy was extremely cautious, especially after the disaster at the Bay of Pigs.

Luke W
Luke W

So, like I've said before, I'm not really a documentary kind of girl. However, I thought this one was really interesting. History was never really my subject in school, either. Basically this movie makes the claim that if JFK hadn't been assassinated we would never have gone to war with Vietnam. Masutani, the director, gives a bunch of examples of instances during JFK's presidency where he avoids physical violence and even shows clips of JFK saying he doesn't feel the government had, at the time, come up with a satisfying solution to the issues arising with Vietnam. The entire idea of virtual history, which was explained at the beginning of the film, is definitely interesting. It's not actual history, since it didn't happen. It is a prediction of what would have happened in history based on prior occurrences. In this case, the outcome of Vietnam conflicts given a different president. Worth a watch, especially if you're interested in American history. Don't know that I'd ever own it because I probably wouldn't watch it again, but it was good one time around!

Kristi Westcoat
Kristi Westcoat

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