Samuel Brace with three reasons why Dark Tower fans should stop freaking out over the movie…
The Dark Tower is finally happening. Like many fans of the Stephen King epic I have waited and waited to see if this project could finally get off the ground. It was at last announced, the director was in place and stars Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey signed up to play Roland and Walter respectively. But the pessimism was palpable. Word spread that changes were afoot, the source material would be deviated from and we all began to doubt that this most challenging of materials could be successfully brought to life. Everything from where the story would start, which characters were included and which ones were not, people were preparing the vitriol before shooting had even began. Well, with some thought and a little help from a series of features by Entertainment Weekly, new information was provided to alleviate those fears. So here are 3 reasons why Dark Tower fans can stop freaking out. This film has a chance, folks.
1) Eddie and Susannah Will Not Feature But That’s Okay
After Roland and Jake, the two characters that are essential to any telling of The Dark Tower saga are fan favourites Eddie and Susannah. These two young men and women, taken from our world and dragged into Roland’s, provide so much of the emotional and thematic heft of which this story thrives upon. So when casting announcements arrived and their names were nowhere to be seen, panic, rightly, was afoot.
But fear not, we must remember that Eddie and Susannah did not appear in this tale until The Drawing of the Three, the second book in the seven part fantasy series. The first novel focused on Roland, Jake and the man in black. In the EW feature, Nikolaj Arcel clears up this situation, putting fears to rest.
“They’re certainly out there,” Arcel says. “I think the entire story deserves to be told and should be told. I would certainly be disappointed in myself or my collaborators if we didn’t bring them in. They’re such a huge part of the story.”
Fine. Awesome. If the film is popular, if it is a success with both fans and critics, we will get more, and then the Ka-tet can be complete, Eddie and Susannah can join Roland and Jake in their quest to reach the tower. It’s a smart decision, one that makes sense in relation to the books construction and allows a more focused first outing.
2) Simple is better.
Speaking of a focused first outing, this is the second reason fans can cool down and actually hope for the best with this adaptation. Very often, when such big projects are undertaken, the movie tries to cram everything in from the source material, bombarding new fans to the franchise with information and lore that can become quite alienating. Well, thankfully The Dark Tower is taking the opposite approach.
The first book, The Gunslinger, is a short novel, simple and narrow in its scope while suggesting larger themes. It’s a fantastically easy introduction into a mindbogglingly large story. So it makes sense that instead of adapting, for example, the first two books at once into a single film, they have decided to modify the story, taking parts from elsewhere while keeping the simple central trio of Roland, Walter and Jake as the films focus.
This is such a deep world with so many elements at play, if this is to succeed with critics and fans, it needs to get to the heart of the book and not be bogged down. I would much rather have a bare bones, stripped down introduction to the series, helping to bring in mainstream audiences — the only way this project continues — and then building on that in the future once people know they like what’s on offer. Less is more, as they say. It couldn’t be truer here.
3) The Dark Tower Film is a Sequel?
I never thought about this until reading the EW piece, but now that it’s been suggested it’s so obvious and a wonderful idea. Spoilers for the films if the story ever gets that far, but as fans of the books know, Roland is stuck on a never ending loop, doomed to repeat the same journey, presumably on and on until he gets things right. Each time he goes on his journey, certain details change along with the choices he makes. This wonderfully cruel reveal in the books is the perfect explanation for why these films will differ from the novels.
“The hardcore fans of The Dark Tower series will know that this is actually a sequel to the books in a way,” Arcel says. “It has a lot of the same elements, a lot of the same characters, but it is a different journey.”
This is genius, and not just a way for fans to make themselves feel better but an actual part of the films story, hinted at for readers that are watching. This allows the story to reconstruct events, it allows for people to turn up when they wouldn’t have before and to give us a continuation of King’s series.
I don’t know about you, but after finishing The Dark Tower, I couldn’t help but wonder what Roland did wrong, what he might do differently next time and how that all might look, what would change. Well now, thanks to this film adaptation, we are going to get to see the next loop, a sequel to book seven. Perhaps we might even get to see Roland break free from his cyclical nightmare.
It’s a wonderful idea. I am certainly more optimistic after recent reveals, and the photos that have been released certainly haven’t hurt either. This actually looks good. Let’s cross everything and look to February 2017 with optimism. This project looks and sounds better every day.