The four-part documentary Bobby Kennedy for President is available to stream beginning April 27th on Netflix.
Kennedy’s life, death and legacy are portrayed in detail in this film which relies heavily on old footage. A true history buff or a Kennedy aficionado will be interested to watch all four hours. While RFK’s life was inspirational and tragic, the documentary is very “old-school” and pretty standard fare for a historical film. There is certainly value in having all the archival footage in one film, but there is not much more added contribution here.
The launch of this series comes at the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s 83-day presidential campaign, which began on March 16, 1968, and ended with his assassination at Los Angeles’ Ambassador Hotel three months later. Episode 1 traces Robert’s early years and his work as his brother’s right-hand man in his campaign for the presidency, through his appointment as Attorney General in JFK’s administration. We watch him become a crusader for civil rights, which continues into his next role as Senator. In the second episode, after JFK has been assassinated, RKF comes into his own as he runs for Senate in NY. He becomes interested in other social justice issues, such as rural poverty.
The final two episodes deal with RFK’s short campaign, his death and the trial of Sirhan Sirhan. The film depicts the turmoil of the United States at the time, the impact of RFK’s deciding to run and the aftermath for the Democratic Party. A large part of the fourth section deals with how the trial was conducted and lack of information that still exists around the shooting. Many still believe that others were involved and that total justice was not achieved.
Interviews with RFK confidantes and staffers, including Harry Belafonte, Rep. John Lewis, Rep. Neil Gallagher, Dolores Huerta, Ambassador William Vanden Heuvel, Marian Wright Edelman and Peter Edelman, who were all influenced heavily by their work with “Bobby,” are the most poignant parts of the film. Of course, hearing RFK’s words in his own voice, is both chilling and inspiring. Perhaps it is still “not too late to seek a newer world.”
I give Bobby Kennedy for President a B+.