by Lash

“The man in black fled across the Desert, and the Gunslinger followed.”

That’s the opening line of the Gunslinger, the first out of eight books in The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. The Dark Tower movie opens with the exact same scene, with Idris Elba as the Gunslinger, Roland, and Matthew McConaughey as the Man in Black. However, instead of an adaption of arguably Stephen’s King’s best works, the movie is more of a continuation of the series.

In a nutshell, the book series is set in the post-apocalyptic ruins of Mid-World that largely resembles the American West. In this world, there was once magic, but now it’s almost gone with only some remnants left, along with fragments of advanced technology. Roland is on a quest to discover the Dark Tower, and chases The Man in Black as part of his pursuit. Along the way, he meets a boy named Jake Chambers, who becomes his spiritual son of sorts, and accompanies Roland on his quest. The rest of the series focuses on the quest.

The Dark Tower universe is part of a connected universe that King created that links to some of his other books, like 'Salem's Lot, Bag of Bones, The Stand, Heart in Atlantis, Insomnia and more. Despite fascinating readers for years since the first book came out in 1982, it was tricky to translate to screen, unlike many of other King’s works. Back in 2007, the trio behind the series Lost, J.J. Abrams, Carlton Cuse, and Damon Lindelof, optioned the series with the idea of adapting the novels, but nothing materialised from it, and the rights expired in 2010.

Universal Pictures obtained the rights after that, with Ron Howard (Apollo 13) lined up to direct. Their ambitious plans include more than just movies, there was supposed to be a television series as well. Increasing costs put a spanner in the works and all plans came to a halt. Next, Warner Brothers came knocking and eventually passed, and finally, it landed on Sony Pictures’ lap. Under the writing wizardry of Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind) and Jeff Pinkner (The Amazing Spider-Man 2), a screenplay was finally born with Nikolaj Arcel (A Royal Affair) set to direct. Interestingly, with the series being such hot property, King sold the film rights for only just $19.

What makes The Dark Tower series so popular and gripping is its fusion of genres, spanning across science fiction, horror, Western and dark fantasy. King had shared that the idea of the series was based on the books he’s read. After reading Tolkien’s stunning Lord of the Rings series, he’d wanted to create his own version of an epic, fantasy novel about going on quests. He was clear about not copying Tolkien, but instead to carve out another angle. After watching The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, he knew how to set his own version of middle-earth. “I realised that what I wanted to write was a novel that contained Tolkien’s sense of quest and magic, but set against Leone’s almost absurdly majestic Western backdrop.”

Since the trailer of The Dark Tower came out, fans have been divided. There are some who feel their favourite books have been butchered, but others welcome a refreshing take on their beloved series. We’re just glad that finally, The Dark Tower has finally jump from print to screen.

Catch The Dark Tower Trailer: