Just before John F. Kerry makes it official tonight as the Democratic presidential nominee, television viewers will be treated to a nine-minute documentary about Kerry made by the 41-year-old James Moll, a protege of Steven Spielberg, no less. As New York Observer reporter Joe Hagan writes today:
“Mr. Moll has the distinction of being Steven Spielberg’s in-house documentarian at DreamWorks SKG. And it shows. The Kerry film is full of warm, golden-hued, Spielbergian images, beginning with the saturated colors of home movies, images of Mr. Kerry as a young, shirtless boy climbing trees and throwing footballs. The teenage years, in black and white stills, are set to ‘Stand by Me.’ The goofy era of his rock’n’roll band, ‘The Electras,’ Mr. Moll plays for laughs, like an episode of VH1’s ‘Behind the Music, ‘ with the daughters wincing in embarrassment. He even has an adolescent version of Jimmy Carter’s ‘lust in his heart’ moment, saying that playing in the Electras was “a great way to meet girls.”
In keeping with the feel-good focus, the first Mrs. Kerry, Julia Thorne Kerry, whose divorce from her husband was quite bitter, will be entirely missing from the biopic. The Kerry daughters, now in their early 30s, will pop up momless, and then, suddenly in 1995, Mrs. Kerry #2, Teresa Heinz, will be on the scene.
The film will also feature footage shot by Kerry himself while serving in Vietnam during the late 1960s, including–and this is weird–footage of “Swift Boat” Kerry slogging through the jungle. How did he do it? Rig his camera in a tree and then walk under it? Didn’t he have a war to fight?
It also seems that Moll’s is a doctored documentary. Kerry slogs in Moll-made slo-mo at one point, for example–and those bullets flying into the water and nearly missing our hero were spliced into the footage by Moll. As Moll reports:
“‘When Army Green Beret Jim Rassman is talking about how John Kerry saved his life,’ [Moll] said, ‘I’m using some of that footage. It shows the swift boat and various shots of the swift boat, and some firing like you see in the water. Bullets in the water.’
“Entering controversy, director Moll explains how the bullets in the water were not from the actual event.
“‘It’s just illustrative.'”
And, as Matt Drudge reports today, there’s even more. A just-released book, Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry, by John E. O’Neill, the naval officer who took over Kerry’s Swift Boat command, says that Kerry went so far as to reenact battle scenes that he’d been in, apparently foreseeing that the footage would be mighty handy, say, 35 years later at a place called the Fleet Center in Boston. The book is already the #2 seller at Amazon, even though it won’t be officially released (from Regnery) until next month. Drudge quotes from O’Neill’s book:
“Kerry would revisit ambush locations for reenacting combat scenes where he would portray the hero, catching it all on film. Kerry would take movies of himself walking around in combat gear, sometimes dressed as an infantryman walking resolutely through the terrain. He even filmed mock interviews of himself narrating his exploits. A joke circulated among Swiftees was that Kerry left Vietnam early not because he received three Purple Hearts, but because he had recorded enough film of himself to take home for his planned political campaigns.'”
The Observer’s Hagan reports:
“Mr. Moll said he was unaware that ‘reenacted’ film footage existed. None of the footage he saw, he said, included ‘reenacted’ battle scenes, nor had he suspected that he was watching any while pouring through it. ‘Absolutely not,’ he said. ‘I saw the footage. I don’t get it. I hadn’t heard of that until an hour ago.'”
The book also, according to Drudge, makes the startling accusation that two of Kerry’s three Purple Hearts were awarded for self-inflicted wounds and that only two of the 23 Swift Boat commanders in Kerry’s Coastal Division 11 support his candidacy today, with some 11 of them outright condemning him.
The Observer’s Hagan pooh-poohs all this stuff as propaganda from the “Republican attack machine.” I myself can’t wait to see the film tonight, which even director Moll concedes, represents the Michael Moore school of cinematic veracity.