[WARNING: This post contains SPOILERS for The Dark Tower book series.]
As readers of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower will surely remind you, the wheel of Ka is ever turning. The fates of the individual are in constant motion as the phases of life bring people and situations in and out of your life in a sort of cosmic waltz, where the music never ceases - even if the rhythm changes suddenly. It’s been this fact that fans of the epic series have held onto over the decades, as a revolving door of studios and directors have tried, and failed, to get a cinematic adaptation off of the ground. After all, Ka never closes a door without opening a window, and with patience, all that’s old will eventually be new again.
That patience has paid off now that production of The Dark Tower is underway. Director and co-writer Nikolaj Arcel (A Royal Affair) is helming the project with Idris Elba (Thor: Ragnarok) starring as King’s enigmatic hero, Roland Deschain, who faces off against Matthew McConaughey’s (Interstellar) The Man in Black in an epic, universe-hopping tale of finding hope in a world that is, quite literally, falling apart. Early production reports have not been without controversy, however, as news that the movies would not be following the books began to trickle in.
This has led to the rise of an intriguing fan theory that has remained officially unconfirmed, until now.
In a new feature on EW, King and Arcel spoke about the direction of The Dark Tower, confirming the long-gestating fan theory that the movie (movies, should the film be successful) will serve not as an adaptation of the books, but rather a "sequel" to them. This fact has been all but confirmed in recent months as social media posts and set pictures revealed the existence of an artifact that Roland obtains near the (controversial) end of the novels. Arcel addressed the rumors directly and confirmed the theory.
“The hardcore fans of The Dark Tower series will know that this is actually a sequel to the books in a way. It has a lot of the same elements, a lot of the same characters, but it is a different journey.”
How is this possible? Well, as we’ve discussed before, the end of the novels reveals that Roland has been stuck in an infinite cycle of trying to reach and save The Dark Tower, which is a source of creation for his and all universes. As the journey begins anew, Roland is in position of the Horn of Eld, an artifact discussed in the books as being key to successfully completing the mission and which has been lost for many years. The implication is that, with the horn in hand, Roland’s next turn around the tower will be his last.
While the ending to the novels was divisive among fans, many of whom followed the novels almost religiously for decades, it does provide the perfect set up for the movies. By serving as a sequel to the books, the filmmakers have the freedom to create a world that’s familiar to the books’ longtime fans without being a beat for beat retelling of the story. A new cycle around the tower means events will unfold in different ways, leaving the element of surprise intact, even for those who’ve read the series multiple times. It’s an immensely clever approach to bringing the stories to life, which King himself has signed off on:
“They sent me a number of different drafts and it came into focus, let’s put it that way. I’m 100 percent behind it — which doesn’t mean it necessarily will work, just that it’s a good way to try and to get into these stories.”
King’s right in that it’s not the safest way to adapt the series, but it’s still arguably the best approach that filmmakers could have taken. This allows them to tell the core of the story, to present the strange and beautiful world of The Dark Tower, in a way that lets them off the leash. Even the most ardent fans of the book will admit that, especially towards the end, there are some, well... rather bizarre moments that might not translate to the big screen. For instance, King himself appears as a character in later books, which, aside from the ending, was one of the most controversial elements of the novels. Now, the filmmakers can ignore those moments in order to tell a familiar story in new ways.
While some of the most ardent fans may take issue with changing the story—even its sillier moments—it definitely falls in line with what we’ve been hearing about the movies so far. Namely, that while the first movie will be largely based on the first novel, The Gunslinger, elements from throughout the book series will be found in the first movie. Change may be hard to accept for some, but screenwriter Akiva Goldsmith says that King played a large role in shaping the movie’s narrative.
“All I can say is that Steve is our partner all the way through, so we don’t make a move without Stephen telling us, ‘That is The Dark Tower’ and when Stephen says, ‘It isn’t,’ which he has at times, we go, ‘Okay, let’s try something else.”
On top of guidance, King himself even gave the script a pass of his own.
“I took a pen and cut Roland’s dialogue to the bone. The less he says the better off, and why not? Idris Elba can act with his face. He’s terrific at it. He projects that sense of combined menace and security. [Roland] is the Western hero, the strong, silent type: ‘Yep,’ ‘Nope,’ and ‘Draw.’”
That’s certainly good news for fans, who’ve long held their own views of what Roland should or should not be. Having such insight from the character’s creator will go a long way towards legitimizing Elba as Roland and help to craft a better on screen depiction. In sadder news, Arcel confirmed that people holding out on the casting of Eddie and Susannah can stop holding their breath. Eddie and Susannah will not, in fact, be appearing in The Dark Tower. At least not yet. Plans to include the two in later movies are in place, and the director offers his assurances that they'll eventually come to life, when the time is right.
“They’re certainly out there. 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.”
Still, the confirmation that the movies will definitely serve as a sequel to the books will be exciting news for fans. Finally, there’s a promise of closure to the story as we see what will most likely be Roland’s final journey to The Dark Tower. It’s an interesting route to take, but if it’s the route that finally brings us a Dark Tower movie, then that’s all the better. We’ll be keeping a close eye on production and will bring you more news as it develops.
The Dark Tower opens February 17, 2017.
Source: Entertainment Weekly