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Zapruder Video Headed To Stores

By Bruce Morton/CNN

WASHINGTON (July 7) -- Even 35 years later, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy remains a searing event in U.S. history. It rocked the world and lives in the memories of everyone who was alive then.

Now the most vivid piece of evidence about that day, a home movie shot by a dress manufacturer named Abraham Zapruder, is coming next week to a video store near you -- $19.98 for a VHS cassette, $24.98 for a digital video disc.

"We are hoping that as many as 200, 250 thousand copies of this particular program will be sold to people who want to collect this, want to look it over, to Americans who want to be able to have a copy of this particular event and the story in their own homes," said Waleed Ali of MPI Home Video.

You don't just get the 26-second film. You hear one of Zapruder's assistants explaining that he almost didn't bring his camera.

"So his assistant, Lillian, and I persuaded him to go get his camera ... to take these pictures for his grandsons and for his children and etcetera," said Marilyn Sitzman.

You hear Zapruder, minutes after first seeing the developed film, talking on Dallas TV station WFAA.

"I heard a shot, and he slumped to the side like this, then I heard another shot or two, I couldn't say if it was one or two, then I saw his head practically open up, all blood and everything, and I kept on shooting," Zapruder said.

Zapruder's heirs made the arrangements for MPI Home Video to make the video, and the result is the clearest images ever from the old film. Every frame has been photographed and printed as a four-by-five negative, then digitally enhanced, made larger -- you see what was between the sprocket holes -- and then remastered, regular and slow motion. One version is always centered on the president.

The film has been at the center of conspiracy theories and arguments over who killed Kennedy. Was it a plot, as in Oliver Stone's film, JFK?

"The Zapruder film was the proof they didn't count on, Lou," a character in the movie says. "We gotta get our hands on it."

Now, all the arguments can start again.

"The Kennedy assassination conspiracy buffs thrive on this type of material," said Gerald Posner, author of "Case Closed." It's not going to answer a lot of questions, but I do think it's of historical significance, and therefore it should be available for people who want to see it."

Says MPI Home Video's Waleed Ali, "When we look at that particular image, we're going to look at an image of the moment when America just simply abandons its innocence. It's just gone."

The original Zapruder film is stirring another controversy, too. The "camera-original" film becomes public property on Aug. 1, by order of the Assassination Records Review Board. The Zapruders reportedly have asked for $18.5 million for the film and copyright; government attorneys believe it is worth far less.

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Tuesday, July 7, 1998

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Zapruder Video Headed To Stores

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