The Dark Tower: How the movie draws from 8 novels
The bricks of The Dark Tower are being rearranged.
Next February’s big-screen adaptation of Stephen King’s epic fantasy saga will retell the story of Roland the Gunslinger and his pursuit of The Man in Black by drawing together elements from all eight of the author’s novels.
It’s a unique approach, similar to the way superhero movies craft a new origin story based on decades of comic book mythology. But King fans are naturally wondering: What parts of this series will they actually see on screen?
Without spoiling plot twists from any of the stories, here are some of the elements and themes that find their way from page to screen.
BOOK I: The Gunslinger — (1982)
This book sets up Roland’s quest for vengeance against the Man in Black and establishes his bond with a mysterious boy, known as Jake. The basic structure of the story serves as the backbone for the new film.
BOOK II: The Drawing of the Three (1987)
Notions of parallel realities stacked atop one another and “ka-tet” (a family found through destiny) originated here. Most of the other key elements of this book will probably be saved for another film, since the characters Eddie and Susannah, who are drawn from our world into Roland’s apocalyptic Mid-World, are being saved for a future movie.
BOOK III: The Waste Lands (1991)
The movie features one of this book’s most memorable set-pieces — Dutch Hill, a decrepit Brooklyn mansion that literally comes alive to protect a portal to Mid-World. Both film and novel also include a lot of Jake’s life in New York, with Vikings actress Katheryn Winnick playing the boy’s mother, who fears the visions her son is having about a gunslinger, a Man in Black, and an ethereal Tower are signs of a psychological breakdown.
BOOK IV: Wizard and Glass (1997)
Most of this novel is a flashback to Roland’s past, which is being saved for a possible TV series. It did introduce the mythology’s mystical glass orbs, which are windows into other times and places. McConaughey’s Man in Black uses these tools to keep tabs on Roland and the boy.
BOOK V.S: The Wind Through The Keyhole (2012)
It’s the most recent Dark Tower book that King has written, but it’s set in the middle of the quest. The main thing from that the movie borrows from this particular book is the idea that fantasy has the power to bend reality.
BOOK V: Wolves of the Calla (2003)
The movie features this novel’s Manni village, a group of shaman-like spiritualists who know how to navigate the paths between worlds. Claudia Kim (Avengers: Age of Ultron) will play a member of the tribe who aids Roland. The shift in this book to include more sci-fi elements beyond the mythology’s use of straight-up magic is also something the film version explores.
BOOK VI: Song of Susannah (2004)
Both film and book venture into the grim corridors of the Dixie Pig, a New York hideaway for bloodthirsty, otherworldly beings. In the book, it’s a run-down restaurant, but in the movie it looks more like Mall of America filtered through the hellish stylings of Hieronymus Bosch. And it’s covered with the sigul markings of The Crimson King.
BOOK VII: The Dark Tower (2004)
Clearly, most of the material from the final book is something for future movies, but it did introduce The Sombra Group, a business front in our world (which is known as Keystone Earth) for followers of the Crimson King, an unhinged force of evil who’ll be freed if the Tower falls. In the movie, the Dixie Pig is full of people with “SOMBRA” badges on their work uniforms.
Also, the ending of the novels figures prominently in the beginning of this movie. Without spoiling very much, Roland has the Horn of Eld in his possession in the film, which is a signal that his journey is starting anew — and each turn of the wheel of Ka, or fate, rolls him to a new place even as it returns to the same position.
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