I always envied my friends who loved Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings. I enjoyed Rowling’s books and the feature film adaptations of Harry Potter. And I read The Hobbit as a kid and loved it, but those were just things I was entertained by, not anything I lived and breathed. I never felt the need to sign up for Pottermore to keep that mythology going as a part of my life after the books ended. I never had my own epic, sweeping fantasy series that I invested that time and effort into reading, that consumed my life in the way Hogwarts and Middle Earth consumed the lives of my friends.
Not until I read The Dark Tower that is. The funny thing is, I’ve been reading Stephen King since childhood. I tried reading It for the first time when I was probably around the age of eight. But I didn’t tackle The Dark Tower until college. Well that’s not true, I’d read book one, The Gunslinger, back in the seventh grade and it just went completely over my head. I didn’t get it at all, it wasn’t anything like the King stuff I was used to, so I abandoned the quest.
In college, I picked that book up again and devoured it. Then I moved onto the next, and the next, and the next. There are seven Dark Tower novels and one of them is over a thousand pages in length. It’s a massive commitment. You spend that amount of time with these characters and they become a part of your life. I’d spent so long within that world that when I reached the end of the series, I felt changed.
The Dark Tower has had a hell of a time getting to the screen. There have been so many attempts over the years. So many actors have been attached to the lead role of Gunslinger Roland Deschain. Ron Howard was on board to direct for a long time, hoping to make a series of films that would coincide with a TV series, so fans could get the entire story.
Since he left the project, most people—almost all, in fact—have felt very negatively toward the adaptation. Now that it’s actually filming, King fans have lost all faith in it. Everything we’re hearing about it so far is the opposite of what they want to hear. They don’t like the casting of Idris Elba as Roland because that character is a white man in the novels. They don’t like that it’s promising that it will feature some changes to the books and that it will have some unexpected twists and turns. That’s obviously not the direct adaptation that fans were hoping for.
The marketing team released an image of a horn lying in the sand reading “Last Time Around” and this is something that obviously only people who have read the books will understand. To truly get into why this single image got me back in this movie’s court, I’m going to have to spoil the end of the book series. I’m sorry, but it’s seriously the only way to do it.
So be warned: spoilers follow for the novels.
At the end of the seventh book, The Dark Tower, Roland finally completes his quest. He reaches the tower alone and steps inside. And he is shown that even though he reached the tower, he failed in his quest. He let too many people die, he was responsible for so much death in his obsession to get to this point that he is sent back to very beginning, only this time, he is given a horn that he picked up later in the series, to help him. It’s possible that this has happened before, too, and that his journey keeps getting gradually easier each time.
Roland wakes up on the beach we meet him on in the opening of The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger. The very first sentence of the series “The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed” is also the very last.
The film series, as has been revealed by this image, is about what happens next. It’s an adaptation, sure, but it’s also a sequel of sorts to the novels. Roland is sent back to the beginning and forced to do it all over again with no memory that he’s gone through this before. Of course there will be differences. They can literally do anything they want with it at this point and it will still make sense.
This is the perfect way to adapt The Dark Tower. Even though it won’t, this should be the move that makes all the fans happy. It’s the perfect solution because fans would be angry with any changes to the source material, but they’re also required for a feature film adaptation.
As a fan of The Dark Tower I could not be more excited. I think it has the potential to prove everyone wrong. I think it can be a hit. I think it’s something more fans should be excited for. This move proves that the filmmakers are not only fans, but fans who really know what they’re doing. If these new films are good, then what I’m really getting is an extention of my favorite book series. That doesn’t sound bad to me.