Using restored, digitised never seen before archive footage, Netflix Documentary Series Bobby Kennedy for President details the life of Robert F. Kennedy leading up to his tragic presidential campaign and the repercussions it had on US politics.
Sifting through the never seen before archive footage in Netflix docuseries Bobby Kennedy for President is an odd experience. Perhaps its the subject matter, or the cold truth that you know how this ends. Watching Robert F. Kennedy grace the screens, with his purposeful speeches, is an elevating yet depressing experience. The strength of the story surrounding the Kennedy family is powerful but only because of the tragic circumstances. Bobby Kennedy for President is not trying to impress with innovative documentary techniques, although it must be respected the effort that has gone into digitising worn tapes. The political docuseries wants its audience to understand the president we should have had but one we did not deserve.
Bobby Kennedy for President does detail the assassination but only for the purpose of the timeline. It’s opening lightly touches on the impact the Kennedy assassinations had, which is warranted in a story that serves many ramifications to the political landscape. Putting aside the tragedy, learning of Robert’s character is more important, with his peers returning for interviews and who manage to emotionally drive the despairing story. The documentary does not lavish the senator with praise initially; the series builds a compelling case study, highlighting his personality in many spectrums when he responds to various political scenarios. His role in supporting his brother’s presidency is insightful, and his developing relationship with influential outside figures like Martin Luther King Jr. is one that should set an example for all future politicians. Bobby Kennedy for President cannot help its left leaning values spread across each episode, however, politics aside, it manages to place you in those moments by not injecting unnecessary narration – you see Robert at work, sleeves up and down. You see a man wanting to take on the world.
The eventual objective is to stress how this man offered hope to millions. It’s not difficult to understand that without his brother’s assassination, he probably would never have had such an impact whilst being in the overwhelming shadow. You walk away from Bobby Kennedy for President learning the saddening factor that he was the Commander-in-Chief but only in spirit that has become a whisper, especially in the strange political climate we behold today.
In the end, you can only conclude that Robert F. Kennedy was a genuine and kind politician, and the type of person that feels void in our current political climate. The Netflix documentary series was never going to present the senator in plenty of negative moments but its positive representation does not feel difficult when the archive footage is coincidentally useful to back up the claims. Whilst presidents and leaders around the world before us present themselves as calm, assertive and aggressive when needed, Robert always looks like a man that could have been pushed over by a slightly strong wind, but it is his words and actions that were a show of strength.
By the time you reach the conclusive episode which seeks justice for RFK, you understand the hope his supporters had. The trust he formed with immigrants, the black population and the poor feels unparalleled to what we witness today. He seemingly made an attempt to try forge alliances with those that did not necessarily agree with him. It’s clear after watching Bobby Kennedy for President that his death had resounding repercussions for years. Whilst you will learn nothing new from the series, you will truly understand the tragedy and impact both brothers had, but also the willingness Robert maintained to make the world a better place.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.