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Synopsis

In the early afternoon of June 8, 1968, following a funeral mass in New Yorks St. Patricks Cathedral, the Kennedy family and several hundred guests boarded a 21-car train at Penn Station to take the body of Robert F. Kennedy to Washington to bury him next to his brother, John.

The trip, scheduled for four hours, ended up taking eight, as tens of thousands of people crammed the route in a scene reminiscent of Abraham Lincolns funeral train a century earlier. Images of the disparate mourners were captured by Magnum photographer Paul Fusco, a journalist on the train. When the train at first came out of the tunnels, he recalls, the first thing I saw was hundreds of people in mourning & It was like an explosion. I jumped out of my chair and pulled the window down and just started automatically photographing. Fusco estimates he shot over a thousand frames that afternoon and evening. Many of the photos were included in his book RFK Funeral Train and are the foundation for this film, which also includes video footage of the journey, the funeral that preceded it, and the latenight Arlington Cemetery burial that followed it.

'One Thousand Pictures: R.F.K.'s Last Journey' also features reflections from Frank Mankiewicz, RFKs Press Secretary who was also on the train. Most poignantly, dozens of people whose images were captured by Fusco are interviewed, 43 years later.

Among those we meet:

Jerome Watson  Watson was one of countless African-Americans who turned out to pay their respects as the train passed. It hurt just about as much as it did Martin Luther King when he got assassinated, Watson says. He was like a friend, somebody that will listen.

Charlie Maurone  A Democratic Party official in Pennsylvania, Maurone met Bobby six weeks before his death. We were excited because he brought a new vision to our party that was stale, Maurone says. When I met him and spent that day with him, the impression was tremendous. Six weeks later, when that funeral train came through town, it was sad & I felt that there was a breath of fresh air for our country, and he was gone. He was gone like his brother was gone.

Joe Fausti  A trip to honor RFK nearly ended with Faustis own death. After touching a highvoltage power line that hung over a boxcar hed climbed for a better vantage point, Fausti was thrown to the ground in flames. He survived, but over 60% of his body was badly burned.

Joe & Eileen Sciscione  Part of a trackside brigade of policemen and firemen in Elizabeth, NJ, Joe was unaware his daughter was standing on the tracks as a train that preceded RFKs whizzed into view. All of a sudden I was pulled off the tracks, says Eileen. I don't know by whom. I felt a wind right across my face, and it was another train. And then there was absolute chaos.

One Thousand Pictures RFKs Last Journey

Richard & John Curia  The train that just missed Eileen killed two others in Elizabeth, including the father of Richard and John Curia, who was on the tracks with a female friend. He attempted to push her out of the way, and unfortunately was unsuccessful and both were struck, says John. The woman held a grandchild in her arms, but was able to fling the child to safety before being hit.

Vanessa Chambers, Delvia Pinky Fowler, Sedrick Robinson  These three friends remember playing as kids at the North Philadelphia station where RFKs train would pass. These memories brought back no hope, recalls Sedrick. If we walked one or two blocks either way you were either going to be beaten, stabbed or killed. Pinky IDs a former boyfriend in Fuscos photo as her boyfriend at the time. Toody was killed in a car, she says. When I saw the picture of Toody, the first thing that came to my mind was, this picture is the only picture with both of us in it.

Paul Kettler  Kettler was attending his fifth Princeton reunion when the RFK train passed. On everyones mind was, why is there this craziness? he says. This a pivotal turn in American history where we wont have presidents who can go out and touch the people any more & And if thats whats becoming of the nation, what does that say?

Michael & McKinley Scott  A civil-rights activist, Michael Scott was the target of racism four weeks after RFKs death, when a bomb exploded in his driveway. Recalling the day he watched the funeral train, Scott says, Martin Luther King had been assassinated just two months prior to that. They took Moses away from us when he was killed. Bobby was David, who was going to fight Goliath  Goliath being bigotry and racism and those standing in the way of equal rights.

Sister Eve Kavanagh  A South African working in the States, Eve went to the tracks with some other nuns. Many of us were saddened, including me, because I was in the process of becoming a citizen and I wanted to vote, she says. I would have voted for him.

Jayne Hayden  A 16-year-old in 1968, Hayden had good reason to admire RFK; she lost her brother in Vietnam a year earlier, and felt compelled to honor a man who sought to end the war.

Though Kennedys assassination occurred more years ago (43) than the Senators age when he died (42), the sense of loss remains for those who knew him or were inspired by him. I miss him very much, says Mankiewicz. We miss him on every issue. We miss that clarity of vision. We miss the irony and the contentiousness  the sense that there were battles to be won, and sides to be taken.

CREDITS: Funeral Train Photographer: Paul Fusco; Produced by Jennifer Stoddart; Film Editors: Fiona MacDonald and Matt Briggs; Director of Photography: Sam Montague. Executive Producer for Impact Partners: Dan Cogan; Executive Producer for Scottish Screen: Robbie Allen. For HBO: Senior Producer: Nancy Abraham; Consulting Editor for HBO: Geof Bartz A.C.E.; Executive Producer for HBO: Sheila Nevins.

One Thousand Pictures RFKs Last Journey

One Thousand Pictures: R.F.K.'s Last Journey