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The Dark Tower trailer journeys to Stephen King's strange new world

Behold the first glimpse of the six-guns and sorcery saga.

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Forgetting the face of your father …

In the realm of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, that phrase means to forget one’s heritage, one’s history, one’s … foundation.

The starting point.

With today’s trailer reveal, we are at the starting point for the film itself, out Aug. 4, and starring Idris Elba as Roland the gunslinger, the last of a group of six-shooting knights in a blighted, apocalyptic world.

He’s trying to reach a mystical tower that binds all space and time, but a demonic magic-wielder known as The Man in Black (played by Matthew McConaughey) is also pursuing the structure.

Their shortcut runs straight through our time and place — and to complete the journey, each of the men needs Jake Chambers (played by Tom Taylor), a boy from New York City who has world-shaking psychic abilities. Have a look …

Jake’s psychic power is known as “the shine,” which can either strengthen the Tower or help collapse it — and it’s also a phrase that should be familiar to any King fan. In fact, the movie has a sly homage to The Shining hidden within it. (There’s also a hint of Pennywise from It.)

For details on all that, see EW’s a scene-by-scene deep dive into The Dark Tower trailer.

Director Nikolaj Arcel (a lifelong King reader, best known for the Danish drama A Royal Affair) has the challenge of blending The Dark Tower‘s unusual elixir of genres: fantasy, science fiction, revenge, horror, and western.

What makes The Dark Tower a challenge to sell is precisely what makes it interesting. Is it The Lord of the Rings or A Fistful of Dollars? The answer is yes — and no. All at once.

“I constantly have to make sure people understand, because it is such a vast mythology,” says Arcel, who is currently deep in the editing process. “The script is using elements from several of the books to try and marry all these ideas together. We’re bringing everybody along to explain all the mythology while also telling our story.”

Here’s how Arcel describes it to friends who are unfamiliar with King’s epic series of novels: “I say it’s an action-adventure about a great rivalry between The Man in Black, who’s this amazing, horrible sorcerer who is traveling through worlds and creating chaos and destruction, and then the gunslinger – part of a legendary, ancient caste of gunslingers, who are heroes.”

The books begin: The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.

In some thematic ways – and this will sound no less crazy – The Dark Tower is a mystical version of Zero Dark Thirty: a dangerous, sophisticated terrorist is relentlessly pursued before he can strike again.

“The gunslinger has been hurt so many times throughout his life by this man, and now he’s on the hunt – and he needs to find and stop him,” Arcel says.

(You can hear more from Arcel today on EW Radio, Sirius XM 105 on “Behind the Scenes,” airing at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. ET.)