Which would be like… a teaser? The poster? A synopsis? I’m not entirely sure how parentage of a movie trailer works. Anyway, I’m talking of course about the much anticipated – for me at least – Dark Tower trailer:
I’ll just say this now so you can either click away or tell me I’m wrong right away instead of getting to the bottom: I. Loved. It.
Idris’ imposing charisma and gravitas as Roland, McConaughey’s sleazy and menacing presence as Walter/Randall/Man in Black, and just the amazing visuals of Midworld or the connection to the rest of King’s works all shining through in this short trailer. It definitely delivers on everything I would want from a film adaptation of the Dark Tower series.
And I think that’s where there’s some debate going on about the trailer. People aren’t happy that this seriously deviates from the source material so much. People have had issues with the film focusing more on Jake, the movie toning down some of the more western concepts, or them being racists. You know, pick your poison. Overall, I wasn’t expecting a transfer of the books story to the big screen. Because that would be terrible. The story of the Dark Tower books barely fit into anything resembling a traditional narrative structure and more closely resemble a traditional saga where the characters go on a meandering journey to ultimate destination and have various adventures along the way (also see: The Hobbit.) There is no easy way to break The Dark Tower into a simple beginning/middle/end. Heck, one whole book is like 90% flashback. Even the first novel, ‘The Gunslinger’ would work as a straight story namely because it ISN’T one. The Gunslinger is five short stories that take place in a chronological order, but while each of the shorts have a roughly complete arc unto themselves, the whole of the narrative doesn’t. Heck it doesn’t even really have an ending. Not one that resolves any of the conflicts brought forth in the story at least.
And that’s the Dark Tower in the nutshell. It lacks the structure that a film demands. So to expect any of it to make it to the big screen without some level of heavy adaptation taking place is naive of how media adaptation is supposed to work. That and I assume you’re a big fan of The Last Airbender. That was pretty much just copying plot point for plot point of the entire first season of Avatar to the big screen. (Full disclosure: I loved the Last Airbender. I have never laughed so hard at a movie. It wasn’t because it was good though.)
The other idea put forth about the movie that solves a lot of these conflicts would only make sense to those who have read the entire book series so this next point may have some SPOILERZ in it for those who are interested in reading the books. The idea being introduced and seemingly confirmed by both King and the filmmakers is that this story is another one of Roland’s cycles. Referring to the idea that entire series has been repeated an unknown amount of times until Roland gets it right by bringing the fabled Horn of Eld to the steps of the Dark Tower. When we last see Roland at the end of the last book, his journey has begun once again but this time he actually has the Horn in hand. While the Horn of Eld isn’t seen in the trailer (photos on the set show a horn like object in Roland’s satchel however), it doesn’t mean that this theory is bust. After all, it wouldn’t be the first cycle where Roland lost the Horn. But even Stephen King has hinted on his twitter that this is the next cycle after the books and that this time we’ll see Roland blow that horn and face down the Crimson King.
The one point I like about this theory is that it doesn’t tie the film makers to the events of the books. Mid-World is still there, the old familiar faces may come and go, but those are this cycle’s versions of those people. In the same way that Roland remembers Cuthbert fondly instead of bitterly at the end of the last book, we can’t simply assume that the events before or during the course of Roland’s last journey to the Tower will play the same. That means the film makers have full access to the names and ideas presented in the books, but don’t have to use them or even use them the same way in the film version.
Combine all that with the fact that you can tell from the trailer that the behind-the-camera team has a lot of love for the property, and this could spell a great time for King fans and non-King fans alike.
One final aside that I’ve been pondering on with the trailer: In one shot we see Jake wandering through an over-grown forest in the remnants of an amusement park with a giant broken down sign that reads “PENNYWISE” and a dilapidated statue of a clown holding balloons. Of course, this is easily a reference to Stephen King’s IT that is slated for its own theatrical movie here soon. But something struck me as odd – Is this where the clown came from? It takes many forms in the course of the novel – a werewolf, a mummy, Bev’s Dad – all conjured from the children’s frightened minds and of course Its final physical form of some Lovecraftian horror that could only be described as “Giant Spider-like creature”. But none of the kids were afraid of clowns. Heck, even little Georgie wasn’t scared of Pennywise when they first met. So where did that form come from? We know that It comes from the Macroverse, a place described in very similar terms as Todash Space in the Dark Tower, and Its natural enemy is the Turtle, which is a reoccurring guardian deity in All-World. So perhaps this right here is a hint to where the form of Pennywise the Dancing Clown comes from original. Maybe this isn’t a reference to IT as much as IT is a reference to this. Who knows. Maybe we’ll find out in August.