The central device of Stephen King‘s “11.22.63” (published in November 2011) is a time portal found in the pantry of a diner in Lisbon Falls, Maine. Initially discovered and explored by Al, the diner’s ailing owner, the portal sends the traveler each and every time back to September 9, 1958, at precisely 11:58 a.m. No matter how long someone stays in the past — hours, days, weeks, years — only two minutes elapse in 2011. The plot is primarily about school teacher Jake Epping going back to 1963 to prevent the slaying of John F. Kennedy, but a lot of other history-altering things happen before that. The basic theme of King’s novel is that you can’t really fuck with time because time will fuck you right back in order to balance things out.
In this trailer for Hulu’s forthcoming eight-part adaptation of King’s novel, it is revealed that the time portal takes Epping (James Franco) back to 1960 and not ’58. Which seems odd. Why shave off two years from King’s original scheme? To what end? Oh, and those vintage cars? Too clean, too spotless, too showroomy. This always happens in period films. The owners spiff them up and the filmmakers forget to dirty them up, to make them look used and worn and exposed to the usual elements. This always looks wrong. Car washes weren’t ubiquitous back then and people didn’t have money to burn.
Comment: A guy showing up in a small Maine town in 1960 with a goatee would be regarded as some kind of commie pinko beatnik weirdo. But British actor Daniel Webber, the guy who plays Lee Oswald, looks just right.
A special debut of the first two episodes, directed by Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland), will happen a couple of weeks hence at the Sundance Film Festival. 11.22.63 will start streaming on Monday, 2.15 — President’s Day.
In 1972 the National Lampoon ran a special “if JFK had lived” issue. The cover showed an older, creasy-faced, white-haired Kennedy. It imagined that if JFK hadn’t caught a bullet in Dallas the Constitution would have been amended to allow him to serve a third and fourth term. The articles depicted JFK’s administration being engulfed by the escalating Vietnam War and widening Civil Rights protests and riots, but one showed him waving to the crowd from the stage at the 1969 Woodstock festival. It didn’t mention him sharing a doobie backstage with Grace Slick, John Sebastian and Marty Balin, but that would’ve fit right in.
The truth? JFK’s murder saved him from the shitstorm of the ’60s and enshrined him forever as the Great Unfulfilled Hope of the 20th Century.