“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.”
Those words marked the beginning of The Gunslinger, the first volume of Stephen King’s epic series The Dark Tower – and it seems only fitting the upcoming film adaptation should open the same way. But fans looking forward to a faithful translation of the sprawling epic should brace themselves now: the big screen version of this saga will be different.
In a lengthy preview, Entertainment Weekly revealed a number of new details about The Dark Tower, which is currently in production for a 2017 release date. First and foremost, it appears that a long-running rumor that the film would actually be a continuation of the novels, rather than an adaptation, is true – as EW puts it, “director and co-writer Nikolaj Arcel… will remix the novels much the way superhero movies often draw from decades of comics mythology to create a new cinematic origin story.”
It’s a really clever and interesting idea, which gives the filmmakers a bit of freedom to tell a new story that still feels familiar. This might not sit well with some purists, but I’m totally onboard for this approach, and can’t wait to see how it turns out.
Idris Elba portrays Roland Deschain, the last gunslinger from the land of Mid-World, and the film opens with him pursuing Walter (Matthew McConaughey), The Man in Black, a powerful warlock responsible for a cataclysmic event that destroyed Roland’s homeland, and who wants to destroy The Dark Tower and all of the the worlds connected to it. And yet, McConaughey says he’s not a bad guy:
“Well, he is a man, actually. Obviously there are mythical proportions of good and evil in Walter. But we didn’t want to go overly fantastic. That would drop the humanity. So Walter, for me, is a man who exposes hypocrisies. You know, he’s not literally the Devil, but I sure as hell think about him like the Devil. I think like the Devil would.”
As for his adversary, Elba brings a rugged and world-weary quality to Roland, who has spent his life as a sort of warrior knight – but instead of a sword and a suit of armor, he wears a leather duster and brandishes a pair of revolvers:
“There’s a mystical element to him. He’s about 200 years old. He’s been around for a long time, and has a deep-rooted connection with the [supernatural]nature of the film. Roland’s completely tuned into that. When you meet him, he’s very much a stoic man, doesn’t want to talk. But when you get to know him, he really knows quite a bit about the world and his world’s history.”
Both men are pursuing Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor), a young boy from our world with a mystical power that Walter intends to use for his dark purposes. Jake’s ability, called “The Shine” (which longtime King fans will recognize), is powerful enough to destroy the beams that anchor The Dark Tower to each reality, and Roland knows he must protect the boy at all costs – a deed which could help him resolve his own pain:
“When we meet Roland he’s a bit lost. He’s been walking around for a long time, so he definitely feels like a man who’s… coiled. Until he meets Jake, he doesn’t have anything to believe in, really. He’s really pent up and releases his soul through [defending]the boy.”
For more information on the film, head over to Entertainment Weekly for their massive two-part cover story. The Dark Tower is scheduled to open in theaters on February 17, 2017.