Dark Waters: Director John Curran On The Making of Chappaquiddick

By Alci Rengifo

The myths have not left us even in a supposedly rational age. Especially in an imperial society what is past is prologue. With every passing year historical memory takes on a new gloss, and the darker shades are colored over with wishful thinking. In the United States the Kennedy family personifies the very idea of national myth. Chiseled in stone, the personas of John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, both assassinated in their political primes in the 1960s, are equally romanticized and debated. Admired for their patrician air in a culture that worships opulence yet deconstructed by scholars of realpolitik, the twin gods of American liberalism evoke a special allure via grainy photographs and film reels. It is the third brother, Edward Kennedy, denied his turn at the throne, who wanders under a shadow infused with that most bitter of phrases, “what could have been.”

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Robert, Ted and John F. Kennedy, 1962

The fall of Teddy came about not through martyrdom, but plain human folly. An evening in 1969, drinking with friends, a late night drive with a young woman in a car and a subsequent, fatal crash into a lake forever shattered the Kennedy mirage. All of a sudden, one of the Kennedys was reduced to indeed the typical aristocrat, dabbling in deadly play which the estate then moves in to sweep under the rug. The Chappaquiddick incident is now the subject of the film Chappaquiddick. Opening in theaters April 6, it is a haunted work draped in shadow, portraying Ted Kennedy as a mere mortal reduced to scheming, begging and finding comfort in the influence of wealth. In the wrong hands this material could be spun into overwrought melodrama, but director John Curran has instead made an engrossing, sobering film about the machinations of power and the waste of spoiled lives. At its center is an impressive performance by Jason Clarke, who does not imitate Kennedy but instead channels a man ruined by his very upbringing, trapping himself through the folly of pure, human missteps…

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To read more the Curran interview, go to Riot Material magazine: http://www.riotmaterial.com/dark-waters-director-john-curran-on-making-of-chappaquiddick/

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