IT has been a while

Long overdue but work shake-ups, breakdowns, and computer problems wait for no one.

I am very excited about the upcoming film IT. Apparently this is to be the first part of a two-part film, with the second film, assuming the first is good, completing the arc with the grownups. Very out of sync with the book, but if you know the book as well as I do (and I would guess that only King himself would, since I have lived and breathed that book on more than one occasion), you know that trying to turn it into a standard film would be impossible.

IT is a novel that spans not only 1000 pages, but also seven characters as children and then as adults, a town in Maine, a monster from beyond our dimension who has been there since time immemorial, interweaving an impossible web of their lives, the town they grew up in, the town itself, and the long, bloody history of which they gradually become aware. There are flashbacks and flashforwards and so many complexities that I am in awe that it flows as well as it does.

You don’t read IT.

You experience IT.

I’m a reader, always have been, since the first time I took TIME magazine to my mother and pointed at the headline letters demanding to know what they were. I read the way people listen to music, and books often transform in my hands and become movie projectors. King’s books do this often to me, not all the time, and some are stronger than others. With his writing I lose the sense of reading, it’s more like things are unfolding in front of me.

I’ve read IT probably nine or ten times, and each time it’s like going back to familiar territory, and the venues, the scenes, the visions are always the same. My internal movie screen is very reliable, and the Barrens, the clubhouse, the streets of Derry, the library, the Standpipe, the remnants of the Kitchener Ironworks, the Tracker Brothers lot, and the dreaded house at 29 Neibolt Street (in my head it is always nay-bolt, not nee-bolt) are as clear to me as if I were there myself.

The house on Neibolt Street in particular. If you’ve read the book you’re nodding, and if you only know IT from the 1990 miniseries you’re probably thinking “what?”

The miniseries that came out in 1990 was as good as it could have been for what it was; a television miniseries made on a TV budget in a time period where special effects were still in their infancy. To tackle IT at all was a feat, but the choices were pretty ugly; make a feature film that would try to cram everything into a two-hour story, make a really long movie that no one would want to see (and this was before Quentin Tarantino brought the idea of two-part films to us), or a trilogy that would require a huge commitment. Or, put it on television, with the concomitant lower budget but the ability to have more airtime.

I own the miniseries and have seen it multiple times (Tim Curry was the first clown to really scare the shit out of me), and it does have some very good scary moments that do sync with the book. But there was a great deal left out, naturally, and places where things just didn’t work. And it never synced up with my mental Derry from the book. While watching the miniseries I had to force myself to recognize them as the characters who existed so differently in my head.

The house on Neibolt Street is a rather large and important section of the book that was partly cut out and partly absorbed into other scenes in the miniseries, probably because the writers/producers didn’t know how to work it into the story, since it’s a confrontation with the creature, and a pretty important one, but isn’t the last one they have as children. It’s a lengthy engagement in the book, with Eddie and others going there twice before the big confrontation, where they determine that the house is where It lives and they make silver slugs to kill It. All of that was mashed into other parts of the miniseries and the house was never mentioned.

Evidently the house figures prominently in the film, and I am very excited, not least because the glimpses I’ve seen get very close to the mental picture in my head.

So to end this rambling, I am excited to see a film that seems to match up more closely with the mental movie I’ve been watching every time I read the book. I hope that they manage to extract the right half of the story and get it right, so that they’re able to finish it, and with today’s technology get maybe a little closer to the insanity of the end of the book.

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