New film examines Ted Kennedy and the death of Mary Jo Kopechne.
As the only Massachusetts based member of the Legal Insurrection team, I’ve taken it upon myself to provide you with a preview of the upcoming film ‘Chappaquiddick” which details the events around the death of Mary Jo Kopechne and the aftermath for Ted Kennedy.
I haven’t seen the film yet but it’s not like there are spoilers for anyone familiar with American history. My greatest concern with this film is that it will somehow whitewash Kennedy’s responsibility for Kopechne’s death or Kennedy’s dirtbag behavior following the accident. As we know, Hollywood and the media have a tendency to rewrite history for people they like.
I use as an example, this headline from People Magazine via Twitchy:
Watch Ted Kennedy's Life Get Derailed in Exclusive Chappaquiddick Trailer https://t.co/N0WmJRtsbl
— People (@people) December 20, 2017
Ted Kennedy’s life was derailed that night? Really?
Here’s how People describes the film (emphasis is mine):
Nearly five decades ago, on July 18, 1969, a car went off the Dike Bridge on the island of Chappaquiddick. The driver, Ted Kennedy escaped. His 28-year-old passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, did not.
The result is a haunting look back into the mystery that surrounds that night when a group of six women who had worked for Robert F. Kennedy’s presidential bid, and six men, including Ted Kennedy, gathered for a party at a rented cottage on the island for a reunion party and ended in Kopechne’s death by drowning.
It’s really not a mystery. Kennedy walked away from the scene of a crime and let Kopechne drown because he was scared of what it would do to his political aspirations.
My fellow Bay Stater Howie Carr seems anxious to see it based on the poster:
— Howie Carr (@HowieCarrShow) December 20, 2017
Take a look at the trailer below:
I scanned the reviews at Rotten Tomatoes and this one by Owen Gleiberman of Variety stood out:
The film says that what happened at Chappaquiddick was even worse than we think. Kopechne’s body was found in a position that implied that she was struggling to keep her head out of the water. And what the film suggests is that once the car turned upside down, she didn’t die; she was alive and then drowned, after a period of time, as the water seeped in. This makes Edward Kennedy’s decision not to report the crime a clear-cut act of criminal negligence — but in spirit (if not legally), it renders it something closer to an act of killing.
“Chappaquiddick” is a meticulously told chronicle, no more and no less, and at times there’s a slight detachment in watching it, because it’s too tough and smart to milk the situation by turning Edward Kennedy into a “tragic figure.” In certain ways, he may well have been, and there are moments when we see the sad grandeur with which this disaster hangs on his stooped shoulders, but the movie is fundamentally the portrait of a weasel: a man who, from the moment the accident happens, takes as his premise that he will not suffer the consequences, and then does what it takes to twist reality so that it conforms to that scenario.
I may see the movie when it comes out in April. I’m curious to see how accurate it is and how it treats all the supporting characters.
It would be fascinating to hear what Mary Jo Kopechne would say about the #MeToo movement but as countless others have observed, she is unavailable for comment.
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