Stephen King Says ‘The Dark Tower’ Is a Bit Different From His Books, In Case You Didn’t Know
Akiva Goldsman’s screenplay for The Dark Tower movie has been floating around for some time now, so if you’re a particularly curious fan, chances are you’re already aware that the adaptation is going to be a bit…different from Stephen King’s version. Just how different remains to be seen, as director Nikolaj Arcel and Anders Thomas Jensen reportedly revised the Goldsman draft before filming. But if you were expecting a faithful adaptation of The Gunslinger…well, perhaps you should adjust your expectations.
King and Arcel appeared on a recent EW podcast, which featured some good and (possibly?) bad news for fans of the series. Birth.Movies.Death picked out a couple of King’s more interesting quotes, starting with the good news — the author made sure that the opening of the Dark Tower movie is the same as the opening of the first book, The Gunslinger:
I expect that the movie will start where the books start. Y’know, “The man in black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed.” I think that nails it right in place for people…I’ve been pretty insistent on that, and I think everyone’s onboard with it.
That’s definitely better than the opening of Goldsman’s draft, which features some very strange choices (which you can read about in AICN’s breakdown of the script). Most notably, as the casting of the film suggests, it combines elements from several books in the series and features characters we don’t even meet until the seventh installment. And although we don’t know how much of that version Arcel and Jensen have changed, King confirms that the film still begins in media res:
It starts sort of in medias res, in the middle of the story instead of at the beginning, which may upset some of the fans a little bit. But they will get behind it, because it is the story.
That last part is crucial to note: it is the story. It may be told differently, but the essential story remains the same. To be fair to Arcel and Jensen — whose job I do not particularly envy at this moment — every adaptation involves making some tough cuts, even more so when the material is this beloved. It requires a certain degree of shrewdness to trim the excess and transform a novel (or seven) into a film (or a franchise).
While The Dark Tower won’t be identical to The Gunslinger, it will still (hopefully) remain true to the heart and soul of the characters and King’s writing. And if nothing else, the film adaptation has a great cast so far, with Idris Elba as the heroic Roland Deschain and Matthew McConaughey as the villainous Man in Black.
The Dark Tower hits theaters on February 17, 2017.