I’m watching the film adaptation of the Dark Tower on 3 August. I am actually looking forward to it. A new trailer-thing is out but I wonder if it gives away too much.
Initially, when I read that Idris Elba will be taking on the role of Roland Deschain, I’ve got to admit I was a little thrown off. Much of the interaction between him and another main character Detta/Odetta Walker/ Susannah Dean is based off their races, and that interaction was, I thought, so central to their development of their relationship – from her inherent and violent distrust because he is a “white mofo” to a sort of mutually earned respect and even awe – that to leave it out would be leaving out the essence of them, especially since Eddie Dean, her lover who was also, initially, a reluctant part of Roland’s ka-tet, is white as well. For a while, she thought it was her against them. That dynamic worked very well in the book, the Drawing of the Three.
So with Idris Elba cast as Roland who has “blue bombardier’s eyes”, and with what I thought would be a missed chance to play off the tension, I didn’t know what to think. Let me put it this way: if in the book, there was no such tension, I wouldn’t have cared who played Roland except that he is “old long tall and ugly”. But because there was the tension, and it was crucial, I think, I was surprised in a how-would-they-pull-that-off kind of way.
It doesn’t help that all versions of Roland has him depicted as white. But having become more familiar with Elba, I think I can say that he can be a gunslinger. I will watch the movie to see if he can be this gunslinger.
I’ll have to decide about Jake Chambers too. When I thought about the casting, as most fans do, I thought the young Haley Joel Osment would be best for the role. His portrayal in the Sixth Sense as a misunderstood boy perfectly fit Jake Chambers, whose advertiser-executive father neglected him and his only friend is his nanny and even then, only when it’s on the clock. This was crucial in his finding Roland and being ok with this other world. Scared, but ok. He’s used to being on his own. In this version, Jake Chamber’s firefighter dad died in the 9/11 collapse. In the book, his dad was kind of a jerk. In the movie, he’s a hero. So I’m not sure how that would change the person, and whether he would be believable. We’ll see.
In any case, this is the “last time around” when Roland has the Horn of Eld (backstory, backstory) and so all bets are off. Without me giving too much away, I think it’s quite smart for them to portray it this way. This allows for changes.
I hope this movie does well. The Reddit AMA with the director Nikolaj Arcel made me feel somewhat relieved since, it seems, he is a fan.
When I heard that they’ll be doing this, my physiological reaction was a stabbing ache in my heart. Not joking. Because there’s wonder and there’s sadness too. I want to see their journey. I want to see Eddie and Susannah and Oy too. I want to see Ted Brautigan and Dandelo and Patrick Danville. I want to see Alain and Cuthbert. And I want to see that Dark Tower in the field of red roses. Can-‘Ka No Rey. But I know that this journey comes with grief.
I read that they’ll be doing a TV series of Wizard and Glass, the fourth book in King’s Magnum Opus. If you’ve read it, you’ll know why I say that hearing it broke my heart too.
I think we all have our Dark Towers we endlessly search for. It’s a metaphor for all times. I just hope this movie will be good.
That being said, here are a few other books I hope will be made into films in my lifetime, some of which are by Stephen King. One thing, though. All of these will have to be rated to justify their content. If they are going to be PG, I don’t think it’ll work. The Dark Tower is PG; that’s one reason why I’m going to watch it in anxious anticipation.
Here’s the non-exhaustive list. I’m linking them to goodreads reviews, etc.
The Talisman – epic (seriously) tale of a boy in search of a cure for his mother’s cancer in a twinned world whose events affect ours as much as ours affect theirs. Some people have twinners and some special ones, their twinners died but they didn’t. So they possess this special ability to traverse between the world by “flipping” into it. The others with twinners flip into wherever the twinner is at the moment. Our boy – Jack Sawyer – is one of the special ones and has to escape the evil Morgan Sloat, his father’s sometime ex-partner who plays an even eviler role in the Territories (the flipped world). It’s a tale of friendship, of strife, of loyalty.
The follow up book is Black House which sees Jack Sawyer in his thirties, a police detective, on a journey again. He needs to catch a child-eater who leaves messages like Albert Fish. There’s a motorcycle gang and bees. We’ll see a breaker and what they can do. Whoo! This must also be done. Both these books have ties to the Dark Tower as well. And Jack Sawyer was my childhood crush. I grew up with him. I was 13 when I read of his adventures in the Territories when his character was 11. I don’t know who should play Jack Sawyer when he’s young, but Josh Holloway would make a yummy grown-up Sawyer.
Rose Madder by Stephen King – a tale of wife abuse but also of power. And of another world through a painting. And a promise that needs to be kept.
Insomnia by Stephen King – also linked to the Dark Tower, and has Patrick Danville tie-ins. The link to the Dark Tower is important conceptually too.
Bag of Bones by Stephen King – I know they’ve done a TV adaptation. Not good enough. They didn’t get the dream sequence right, or the sunflowers. Or the thing in the doorstep. Or Matty. They didn’t get Matty right.
From a Buick 8 by Stephen King – I loved loved loved the presentation of this in a book. Not sure how it’ll hold up as a film but I think it’ll do ok. It’s about this car, right? No, not Christine. This car is from someplace else. Sometimes things go to that place. And sometimes things come here through the car. It looks like a Buick but something is off. It’s a tale about a son remembering his father who died in the line of duty and how this strange car is strongly tied to his father when he was alive. For this to work, the actors must be convincing.
Then there is Imajica by Clive Barker. They have to make this. This is something for the ages. Imagine earth divided into 5 realms. Our realm, the realm of science, is separated from the others. And this magician of sorts is trying to reconcile us all but he fails. And in that failing, horrible things emerged from the In Ovo. And I can’t tell you more without giving things away but this has got to be done. There are a few sex scenes that I couldn’t imagine how they’d do it, but if they can do American Gods, they can do these.
And Clive Barker’s Weaveworld. Less dark, but, actually, still dark. Immacolatta and her dark sisters sometimes still give me nightmares. A woven tapestry that hides a world in plain sight. If unraveled, the inhabitants will spring out too, and the lands will unfold. They just need to hide from Uriel. Yes, that Uriel. Sort of. And Shadwell is a dick.
The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice – Interview with the Vampire with Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt was great – I liked it anyway. It got the essence of the characters. Even now, I can’t read about Lestat without imagining Tom Cruise’s face. Or Louis without imagining Brad Pitt’s. Armand should have been played by Leonardo Di Caprio though – he’s supposed to be an eternal Botticeli youth person-thing. The Queen of the Damned was a nope – Stuart Townsend is really not Lestat (sorry!), though Aaliyah was actually not bad as Akasha. I would love if they could make the second book – The Vampire Lestat – which depicts Lestat after his years of slumber, waking up to the rock-and-roll era, and the third book in the series which tells about the mythology of the vampires and their origins. That mythology is a good one, I think. Trying to squeeze books 2 and 3 together, which is what they did, gave neither of them justice.