The Umbrella Man – Op-Docs (Week 10 Blog Post)

In 2011, on the anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination (November 22), The New York Times’ Errol Morris explored the story behind the one man seen standing under an open black umbrella at the scene of the incident. Josiah “Tink” Thompson, author of 6 Seconds In Dallas, provides a detailed summary of the story behind “The Umbrella Man” while also sharing his own insight on the matter.

Despite speculation that “The Umbrella Man” was the man who assassinated JFK, he later testified that he was protesting the appeasement policies of Joseph P. Kennedy, JFK’s father, when he was the ambassador to the court of St. James in 1938-1939. The umbrella was a reference to Neville Chamberlain’s umbrella.

Errol Morris’ short film primarily consists of interview footage of Josiah “Tink” Thompson supplemented with b-roll from events surrounding the assassination of JFK. Thompson is the main voice heard throughout the film and serves as the storyteller. A variety of shots are used to display Thompson during his interview: rule of thirds, close, medium, etc.

Morris did a great job of setting the mood for the film by including light and soothing background music that complements the calming tone of Thompson’s voice. Each part of the film flows together seamlessly, from beginning to end. The b-roll was very well placed and helped emphasize Thompson’s words. Morris’ film tells the story of “The Umbrella Man” in a unique and engaging fashion.


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