The "Zapruder Film" arrives on video

Back and to the left. Back and to the left. After nearly 35 years of conspiracy theories, government reports, expert analyses, and Hollywood re-creations, Image of an Assassination: A New Look at the Zapruder Film puts Abraham Zapruder’s 26 seconds of footage of John F. Kennedy’s death in the public’s hands. Having planned an August release, MPI Home Video is rushing the $19.98 tapes to stores this week due to a wave of publicity its announcement brought. (The $24.98 DVD follows in two weeks.)

If the release leads to renewed controversy, it may be because the new edition contains about 20 percent more material. MPI’s computerized remastering of the fragile 8-mm film includes the images found between the sprocket holes in each frame.

The remainder of MPI’s 45-minute tape, which all told cost about $500,000 to produce, spins Zapruder’s tale and recounts the 18-month restoration process. ”This footage has been in the hands of some of the wackiest people,” says Waleed B. Ali, MPI’s chief, referring to investigators who have had access to the film over the years. ”Now somebody might see something never thought of before.”

Even with the meticulous care, Ali is sure he’ll be accused of some kind of skulduggery. Or not, says Tommy Bowden, cofounder of Dallas’ Conspiracy Museum, who adds ominously, ”Unless they’ve done something to it.”