Directed by John Curran, the highly anticipated feature film Chappaquiddick casts a shadow over the Kennedys, America’s most talked about political dynasty.

The movie attempts to uncover the devastating events surrounding the widely publicized tragedy that shook the nation.

On Friday, July 18, 1969, Senator Edward ‘Ted’ Kennedy accidentally drove his car off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts. The incident resulted in the death of his passenger Mary Jo Kopechne.

Senator Kennedy, who swam to shore leaving Kopechne and the sinking car behind, was condemned for not reporting the fatal accident to the police. Kopechne, a 28-year-old speechwriter and secretary had previously worked for Ted’s brother, the late Robert F. Kennedy, on his presidential campaign.

Ted Kennedy. Photo: Public Domain

Ted Kennedy. Photo: Public Domain

Kopechne was an integral part of the aforementioned campaign, serving as one of the six ‘Boiler Room Girls’ - a prolific group of young women who worked relentlessly from a hot, windowless location in Washington tracking data and intelligence ahead of Kennedy’s election to office.

On the night of her death, Kopechne was attending a small party celebrating the dedicated work of the Boiler Room Girls. According to accounts, Senator Ted Kennedy had agreed to drive her to the last ferry home from the small island.

After the fatal incident, the idolized public figure, played by Jason Clarke, returned to the guest house where he was staying. The incident was not reported to the police until some 10 hours later, whereby the body of Kopechne (Kate Mara) and the abandoned car had already washed up to the shore.

Mary Jo portrait from the Caldwell High School yearbook, via Wikimedia Commons

Mary Jo portrait from the Caldwell High School yearbook, via Wikimedia Commons

The politician pleaded guilty to leaving the scene and was sentenced to a year of probation. He would eventually receive a two-month suspended sentence. It is widely believed that the accident hindered Kennedy’s chances of ever becoming a U.S President.

The movie, which also stars Academy Award nominee Bruce Dern as Kennedy’s father Joe, premiered at Toronto Film Festival earlier this year to promising reviews.

Chappaquiddick will be released in theaters nationwide on April 6, 2018.

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