[This article contains MAJOR SPOILERS for The Dark Tower novels.]
As production continues on the adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, the news has moved from slow trickle to deluge. After decades of false starts and failed plans, the flood of information has been a cause of joy for fans of the epic, eight volume series, as the prospect for seeing the characters of King’s richly imagined world come to life looms close on the horizon. For some, however, the joy has been tainted by a sense of confusion.
The more information that gets released, the more it seems that director and co-writer Nikolaj Arcel (A Royal Affair) and producer Ron Howard (In the Heart of the Sea) are straying away from exact events of the novel, leading many to fear that the adaptation will be markedly different from its source material. A series of eyebrow-raising casting announcements has been a cause for concern, as relatively minor characters from the books have gotten prominent placement by the studio. What, exactly, is going on with the Idris Elba (Thor: Ragnarok) and Matthew McConaughey (Interstellar) led production? A new series of set photos might have the answer.
The new photo set, published on Just Jared, seems to reveal Elba’s Roland Deschain in possession of a horn like object. This photo lends credence to the long running fan theory, one which King has already basically (?) confirmed, that the movies will be both an adaptation of and sequel to the cycle of novels. If that’s the case, everything else about the project begins to make a little more sense.
As readers of the Dark Tower books will recall, the end of the eight volume series reveals that Roland has been stuck in a sort of infinite loop of trying to save The Dark Tower, a nexus point of all realities that holds the entirety of existence together. In the final moments of the books, the series ends where it began, with Roland chasing The Man in Black across the desert. This time, however, he holds the once-missing Horn of Eld.
The horn is said to be vital to the saving of The Dark Tower, and in the books it is implied that, while Roland has to once more travel to the Tower, he’ll be able to finally complete his mission now that the horn is in his possession.
Could it be that the movie series will pick up where the books left off? While that has yet to be completely confirmed, that does seem more likely than ever and it does put a few of the more confusing casting announcements into perspective. First was the news that Abbey Lee (The Neon Demon) was set to play Tirana, a relatively minor character who doesn’t appear until later in the books. Then came the announcement that Michael Barbieri (Killer) was cast as Timmy, friend of Tom Taylor’s (Doctor Foster) Jake Chambers. Timmy hardly appears in the books, and that anyone even bothered to announce his casting was indication that significant changes were being made for the movie. That idea was made more apparent as King and Arcel confirmed that the first movie wouldn't be following the first book exactly.
If, in fact, the movies will be an amalgam of both a sequel and adaptation of the books, the changes begin to make a good deal of sense. It certainly stands to reason that this is the route they’ve chosen; the end of the Dark Tower books left a lot of readers feeling underwhelmed. After nearly three decades, the novels never really provided any sense of closure and readers are still divided over their ending.
More than just the ending, however, the last three books in the cycle were an uneven pastiche of character and narrative tropes that featured Stephen King becoming a character and a retelling of Seven Samurai. It was a bizarre way to end a series after decades of buildup, and many readers still find themselves justifying their love for the series in spite of its final three novels.
Making the movies a sequel to the books, however, allows them to avoid the pitfalls of novels. They can effectively tell a new story that’s surprising to readers while still being reverent to the source material, while also providing a story that doesn’t need to be read to be appreciated by newcomers to the series.
With the new pictures seeming to reveal the Horn of Eld, it seems that this is indeed the direction they’re going with the movie series. That’s a smart move on their part. It would be hard to fully adapt the grand scope of the King novels without making changes, and going this route allows them a convenient, in-universe explanation for all of the changes. While it’s important to note that without official confirmation this all remains speculative, the prospect now remains more likely than it has ever been before.
The Dark Tower is scheduled for release on February 17, 2017.
Source: Just Jared
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