American Dynasties: The Kennedys

For this assignment, I chose the introduction to American Dynasties: The Kennedys. The opening begins on photos of Joseph P. Kennedy Sr and Rosemary Kennedy, the heads of the Kennedy family. Their names are displayed next to them before zooming in on an animation of them holding hands, before moving down and showing their children. The family tree diagram is meant to represent the family and the different lines of the Kennedy family. This is supplemented by typography and dotted lines that typically would show up on older documents. The typography reminded me of a typewriter. There are also other elements such as the colors that move around quite frequently, as well as the staticky noise that appears overtop all of it. I believe the designer’s intention was to create a visual that would exhibit elements of old age, while simultaneously utilizing the noise, colors, and holding hands animation as a means of bringing life into the design. While the pictures of the Kennedys are black and white themselves, the movement is enough to make the viewer believe that this American Dynasty, although old, still hasn’t gone anywhere and is very much alive through the current bloodline of the family.


The next part of the introduction I’d like to talk about is the part where the White House directly collides with the Kremlin. A huge part of JFK’s presidency was dealing with the containment of communism throughout the rest of the world, as well as an international rivalry that started with the Soviet Union because of it. The two countries constantly attempted to outdo the other in an attempt to show superiority, and not only superiority of country but superiority of their respective ways of governing and life. For example, the Soviets were the first to space but the US were the first to put a person on the moon. This rivalry was a main focal point of the Kennedy presidency, and it’s why this mash-up appears in the introduction. The Kremlin is red, representative of a potentially aggressive and angry Soviet Union, while the White House is a blue, tranquil color. These colors could also be indicative of communism (red) and democracy (blue).

Another thing I want to point out is the ending, when the kids from the start are all grown up. Across the entire opening shows moments from a few members of the Kennedy family, meant to depict progression and time passing.  JFK is smoking in one, Jackie Kennedy is smiling, Robert Kennedy is in deep thought. My point is that the Kennedys that were incredibly important to JFK’s presidency are prominent. Not to mention there’s an instance of RFK playing with his kids. The kids from the start grew up, and are now raising their own kids. The goal of the documentary is to take you from Joseph P Kennedy’s life all the way to the present day, with heavy emphasis on the JFK presidency. That being said, the introduction captures the majority of what the documentary is about, the progression of the Kennedy family and their dynasty from childhood to adulthood. In that regard it’s successful in not only communicating a message visually, but is also informative of what viewers are going to learn about in the documentary. This last part is an incredibly small detail, but when all the people disappear one by one in at the end of the introduction, it begins with JFK as he was the first to die out of everybody pictured. A very grim detail, but also something I couldn’t help but notice. Those little details are what I love about design- you could tell the person who created this was passionate about the project.