- Megan Bingham
On a brilliant and beautiful autumn day, shortly after noon in downtown Dallas, Texas, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by former U.S. Marine Lee Harvey Oswald. As the President's motorcade passed the Texas School Book Depository, gunshots reverberated across Dealey Plaza. JFK died less than an hour later from fatal gunshot wounds to the back of his head and neck. The following day, Oswald was arrested, then shot in the stomach and killed by Jack Ruby, a local nightclub owner and JFK fan.
The date of November 22, 1963, will always be remembered as a day of infamy in American history. But, what if you were given the opportunity to go back in time and stop the assassination, saving America's prolonged pain, and changing history for the rest of time? That's exactly what English teacher Jake Epping encounters in Stephen King's alternate history novel, 11/22/63.
King released the 849-page novel in 2011. In 2015, the Internet streaming service Hulu announced it would release an eight part miniseries in February 2016. 11.22.63 stars James Franco as Jake Epping; Sarah Gadon as Sadie Dunhill, Jake's love interest; George McKay as Bill; Chris Cooper as diner owner Al Templeton; and Australian newcomer Daniel Weber as Lee Harvey Oswald.
11.22.63 follows the prominent conspiracy theory involving the CIA. The CIA's possible motive came out when the agency was involved in numerous plots to assassinate foreign leaders in the late '60s and early '70s. According to the theory, JFK was assassinated because he was turning away from the conflict of the Cold War, as well as seeking peace with the Soviet Union. There is no proof of this theory—again, it's only a conspiracy theory. Multitudes of conspiracy theories have surrounded the JFK assassination for years. If you're interested in reading more about these theories, check out our books on the subject.
Overall, the miniseries has received positive reviews from critics and viewers alike, despite a few differences from the novel. The addition of George McKay's character Bill allows for an interesting twist on the plot, but nothing drastic is changed. King had a lot to do with the production of 11.22.63, and he wanted to keep the plot as close to the original as possible, not only to intrigue his longtime fans, but to keep the attention of his new fans. The actors' performances are phenomenal. James Franco, an English major and devoted Stephen King fan, reveals more of his serious side. Newcomer Daniel Weber's performance as the unstable Oswald is astounding, despite the strange accent he seems to give the infamous assassin—not a Southern drawl, as Oswald reportedly had. However, his intense portrayal allows viewers get to know more about Oswald, his personal life, and his beliefs. You may be able to come to your own conclusion as to why Oswald shot Kennedy.
Despite the length of both the book and the miniseries, both are highly recommended for any reader who enjoys science fiction formats, such as alternate history and time travel, or even true history buffs who enjoy conspiracy theories and 1960s milestones.
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