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Friday, July 17, 1998 Published at 02:46 GMT 03:46 UK

World: Americas

Kennedy video goes on sale

The world's most famous amateur movie - showing the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy - has gone on sale in the United States to the public for the first time.

Watch Stephen Sackur's report on the film
Amateur cameraman Abraham Zapruder captured the killing in Dallas in November 1963 on his eight-millimetre home movie camera. The images have helped launch a hundred conspiracy theories.

The original 26-second film is kept in a freezer in a federal archive, one of the most significant documents in US history.

[ image: Abraham Zapruder and his camera]
Abraham Zapruder and his camera
The Zapruder family is arguing over exactly how much the film is worth. The federal government is offering them $3m, but they want $18m and are prepared to go to court, saying that they want to recoup the cost of preserving and enhancing the film.

While the wrangling continues, the Zapruders are releasing the video version, which is going on sale for $20 a copy.

'Image of an assassination'

Abraham Zapruder on the day of the assassination: "I saw his head practically open up"
The 45-minute video, called 'Image of an Assassination: A New Look at the Zapruder Film,' consists of a 40-minute preamble and six separate showings of President Kennedy's head exploding when hit by a bullet.

BBC Correspondent Stephen Sackur says some Americans are questioning the motives of the Zapruder family and feel the film of the last seconds of President Kennedy's life is being misused.

[ image: Hordes of amateur cameramen tried to film the Kennedys in Dallas]
Hordes of amateur cameramen tried to film the Kennedys in Dallas
But Waleed Ali, executive producer for MPI Home Video, which made the video, argues that, despite being "gruesome, shocking and vulgar," it is probably the most important film clip in the nation's history.

"Parents should be cautious about showing it to children under the age of 11 because it is disturbing, but this needs to be out in the hands of the people," he said.

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