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Philosopher King

Christopher Walken
Christopher Walken
Christopher Walken
When Johnny Smith (Christopher Walken) awakens from a coma caused by a car accident, he finds that years have passed, and he now has psychic abilities. Heartbroken that his girlfriend (Brooke Adams) has moved on with her life, Johnny also must contend with his unsettling powers, which allow him to see a person's future with a mere touch. After shaking the hand of aspiring politician Greg Stillson, Johnny sees the danger presented by the candidate's rise and resolves to kill him. Initial release: October 21, 1983 (USA), Director: David Cronenberg, Story by: Stephen King | Photo: Stephen King | Link | Christopher Walken, Stephen King, The Dead Zone, Movie, Teacher, Politician, Assassination, Nerd Tie,

Somehow forgotten by the media, a prophetic story resonates.

Think for a moment of the fabled thought experiments usually attributed to those of genius--Newton's apple-induced grave formulae, Einstein for his relativity, Mendeleev for his dreamt elements, Liebniz for calculus--you get the idea(s). Ahem.

Well, ladies and gents, it's past time we add one Stephen King to the list for his 'The Dead Zone' tome, and the more familiar imagery of the Martin Sheen, Christopher Walken-starring filmic version. (Lending superficial yet effective 'alien'-nation noir is the casting of Tom Skerrit as sheriff).

Having no financial interest in its revival, this scribbler urges you to have a second or certainly a first look, given the political gravamen of both this allegorical tale and its relevance to our extant Presidential doings. For those of you who haven't read or viewed this predictive fable, spoilers are unavoidable but perhaps worthwhile given the imminence of November 8th.

In the perhaps better known film version, a young man, by way of a car accident-induced coma, has a unique 'gift' bestowed upon him: foreseeing the future of individuals with whom he has literal physical contact, a mere handshake the usual trigger of this daunting effect upon both the contactees. Not to get too much into the weeds it is fascinating for purposes of cinema verite and plausibility purposes that the original story may have had its roots in the very real case of one Peter Hurkos, a man whose head injury was shown to have induced premonitory visions about whomsoever he touched, including the inanimate objects possessed by them. (This case was elucidated and dramatized by the golden era TV show 'One Step Beyond' for you boomers and nostalgia/'Twilight Zone' era fans).

Here's the thrust of things: an ambitious, stop-at-nothing egoistic Sheen as high federal office candidate Stilson is known to former teacher and hometown acquaintance Smith played by Walken for his petty and not-so-petty methods of gaining attention thereby fooling unsuspecting voters about his true character---more at lack of any. After a series of events--including the physical intimidation of the press via his thuggish campaign manager--Sheen/Stilson becomes Senator. Walken/Smith, having missed his chance at love, his girlfriend having moved on during his comatose state of years, and demurring his psychiatrist's counsel (played by the same Herbert Lom of the 'Pink Panther' films, and 'Spartacus' and many others) determines that he must do away with the would-be President. While he fails to accomplish this, he succeeds at the ultimate goal of ruining Sheen/Stilson's bid for the Presidency through a classic contratemps of the politician's baby-kissing trope. His 'vision' of nuclear holocaust occasioned by President Stilson saves 'us' from that fate.

Reread it, review it, it's a virtual thought experiment for this moment in time; who knows, maybe you'll make that rarefied list of thought experimenters, or even be as well-regarded a story co-writer as Mr. King.

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Updated Aug 12, 2017 12:01 PM EDT | More details

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