RFK Must Die: Conspiracy Queries


Exploring several of the inconsistencies in the official account of the 1968 assassination of Robert Kennedy without stating an alternative outright, Shane O’Sullivan’s RFK Must Die is more of a conspiracy-query doc, but will titillate the suspicious nonetheless. Some rote sociopolitical backstory sets the scene for Kennedy’s presidential bid, and O’Sullivan narrates the events leading up to the California primary. Rare footage of Kennedy on the campaign trail—somehow aged more than a decade since the death of his brother five years earlier, and yet warm and spry, quoting Camus and Aeschylus from memory and vowing to end the war—is an early indication of O’Sullivan’s archive-razing prowess. After several sober “back and to the left” re-creations of the shooting at the Ambassador Hotel and the varying eyewitness testimony, O’Sullivan zeroes in on obscure photographs and footage stills that indicate the unexplained presence of at least two CIA operatives at the scene. Although he attempts to match them with known CIA agents who hated the Kennedys and to tease out the idea of a second shooter, O’Sullivan hits major roadblocks; in raising several key questions, he opens the door to a conspiracy theory of the assassination, but then retreats at the threshold. The case’s most compellingly unresolved element is Sirhan Sirhan himself, an assassin who insists 40 years later that he remembers nothing of the event. Audiotapes of Sirhan’s police-administered hypnosis after the murder suggest both his de facto guilt and—as hypnosis experts point out—his psychological malleability, an ideal trait for any Manchurian candidate.