The Man in Black fled across the desert, and Ron Howard directed…

Rejoice, Constant Readers.  At long last, Stephen King’s epic saga, The Dark Tower, is making the leap to the big screen, directed by Opie Cunningham himself, Ron Howard.  For those who don’t know, The Dark Tower is King’s magnum opus, the nexus of his entire body of work, with references to the Dark Tower sprinkled throughout the majority of his novels.  The task of adapting this behemoth to the screen (seven books clocking in at over a million words, not to mention several ancillary stories that may become part of the films) is going to make The Lord of the Rings look like a one-act play.

Many fans have heaped scorn upon the choice of Howard to direct (I guess they were hoping for Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro, or someone of that ilk).  I, for one, will withhold judgment until I see the final product.  Howard has made many solid films over the years, and for what it’s worth, he seems to have a deep passion for the project (he worked on it for a year before even presenting the idea to Stephen King)—and there is no way that King would let his baby go unless he was confident that Howard was going to do his books justice.  This is not Maximum Overdrive or ChristineThe Dark Tower is the center of King’s entire literary universe, and he would not hand over the rights lightly.

The doubters claim that Howard’s body of work leaves no indication that he is capable of taking on a project like this, but was Peter Jackson in a much different position before he began work on Lord of the Rings?  And we all know how that turned out.  I’m intrigued by the way Howard has chosen to approach the material: a movie trilogy sandwiched around two television series that bridge the three films.  Such a concept is unprecedented in cinematic history; it will be interesting to see how it all shakes out.  It certainly gives the filmmakers latitude to flesh out more of the story than a strict film series would have provided.  I wonder, though, how much of the source material will need to be censored in the television series.  It would seem to be better suited for a premium channel, but then how many fans would follow it?  On the other hand, there have been a few network television miniseries over the years that have done a credible job with King’s work, so perhaps this can work as well.

The most important element of the production is going be the selection of the actor to play series protagonist Roland Deschain, a gunslinger in much the same vein as Clint Eastwood’s character from Sergio Leone’s classic series of spaghetti westerns, with a little bit of Arthurian regalness mixed in.  Howard has offered this critical part to Javier Bardem (I have to admit that I have trouble seeing him in this role, but he is an outstanding actor, so I will place my faith in Howard’s judgment).  At this point Bardem has yet to accept and there’s no guarantee that he will, for he would be required to commit a huge chunk of the next decade of his life to a single character on both the big and small screen—how many A-list actors would be willing to do that?  It could be that we end up with a relative unknown in the role, which might actually be preferable.

Regardless of the choices Howard makes as the project moves forward (and their inevitable dissection by the fan base), I look forward with great excitement to those first moments on the big screen when the Man in Black flees across the desert with the Gunslinger in hot pursuit.  And to borrow a phrase from the High Speech of Roland’s hometown of Gilead, I say thankee-sai.

Writer, traveler, photographer, hiker, film/TV addict, amateur chef, casual gamer, and occasional tennis & saxophone player . . . in real life I do web design.

Posted in Cinema, Entertainment

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Devils Tower, Wyoming - August, 2017

Another prairie dog shot, this one in the iconic standing pose. Not as sharp as I would have liked, but not too bad for handheld at a 250 mm focal length.

#animals #devilstower #nationalmonuments #NorthAmerica #Photography #prairiedogs #roadtrips #Travel #UnitedStates #wildlife #Wyoming Devils Tower, Wyoming - August, 2017

There is a giant field beneath Devils Tower that is entirely covered with prairie dogs. I was so mesmerized by the little critters with their cute screeching noises that I almost forgot I was there to visit the tower.

#animals #devilstower #nationalmonuments #NorthAmerica #Photography #prairiedogs #roadtrips #Travel #UnitedStates #wildlife #Wyoming Devils Tower, Wyoming - August, 2017

This shot only features the top of Devils Tower, but I liked the variety of colors in the landscape.

#DevilsTower #Wyoming #NationalMonuments #travel #buttes #landscapes #photography #UnitedStates #NorthAmerica #RoadTrips #hiking #colors Devils Tower, Wyoming - August, 2017

A closeup shot of climbers scaling Devils Tower.

Pretty soon, climbing will no longer be necessary because, according to a sign I saw at the site, they are apparently installing an elevator to the top. Although it would be neat to see the top of the tower, I think it’s unfortunate that they are going to ruin its appearance with an elevator apparatus. I’m glad that I was able to see Devils Tower in all its natural glory before this happens.

#buttes #devilstower #hiking #nationalmonuments #NorthAmerica
#Photography  #roadtrips #Travel #UnitedStates #Wyoming #climbing Devils Tower, Wyoming - August, 2017

A view of Devils Tower from my hike around the base. This is the opposite side of the tower from the shot I posted yesterday. The black dots in the sky are birds.

#DevilsTower #Wyoming #NationalMonuments #travel #buttes #landscapes #photography #UnitedStates #NorthAmerica #RoadTrips #hiking Devils Tower, Wyoming - August, 2017

A lifelong dream sparked by 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' was finally realized when I visited Devils Tower last August--40 years (and many plates of sculpted mashed potatoes) after I first saw the tower on film. I had no idea as I hiked around Devils Tower that just two days later there would be a 40th anniversary screening of the film at the tower itself. Just missed it!

#DevilsTower #Wyoming #NationalMonuments #CloseEncounters #travel
#buttes #landscapes #photography #UnitedStates #NorthAmerica
#RoadTrips Deadwood, South Dakota - August, 2017

I chose to stay in Deadwood during my three nights in South Dakota because I was a huge fan of the HBO show and have always been fascinated with the Wild West. I thought it would be cool to walk in the footsteps of Deadwood’s famous residents.

The drive in to town was interesting, as I steadily climbed the Black Hills while passing “Bighorn Sheep Crossing” signs. I only had time to explore the main strip because I spent most of my visit taking day trips out of town, so it’s not really fair to render a judgment without having taken the time to fully check out everything Deadwood had to offer. Still, I found it to be kind of a disappointment, mostly just your average casino town, which isn’t really my cup of tea.

Nevertheless, I saw several points of interest during my walks around town, such as the spots where Wild Bill was shot and where his assassin was caught, the Bullock Hotel that was built by Seth Bullock after the events of the show, and a few establishments named after notable people and places such as Charlie Utter and the Gem Theater. The recreated “gunfights” in the middle of town were also neat.

#deadwood #NorthAmerica #Photography #roadtrips #SouthDakota #Travel #UnitedStates #wildwest #historictowns #blackhills #oldwest Mount Rushmore, South Dakota - September, 2017

This is a zoomed-in view of Mount Rushmore from a lookout point a couple of miles away on Iron Mountain Road, a scenic mountain drive that I highly recommend taking before heading to the monument. If you go south to north, you will drive through a tunnel that perfectly frames Mount Rushmore; makes for a memorable photo. This shot may not look like a panorama due to its more squarish shape, but it was stitched together from two different photos.

#IronMountainRoad #MountRushmore #nationalmonuments #NorthAmerica
#panoramas #Photography #roadtrips #Scenic #SouthDakota #Travel
#UnitedStates #mountains Portland, Oregon - August, 2017

The view from my apartment during my stay in Portland last summer.

#NorthAmerica #Oregon #panoramas #Photography #Portland #Travel #UnitedStates Yellowstone National Park - August, 2017

Yellowstone Lake, the largest freshwater lake above 7,000 feet in North America.

#yellowstonelake #nationalparks #NorthAmerica #panoramas #Photography #roadtrips #Scenic #Travel #UnitedStates #Wyoming
#YellowstoneNationalPark #yellowstone #lakes #water Yellowstone National Park - August, 2017

The Grand Prismatic Spring, one of Yellowstone's most stunning features, is the largest hot spring in the United States, and the third largest in the world. It's difficult for a ground-level photo to do it justice, but if you climb the hill visible in the background of this shot, you can get a nice bird's-eye view of its beauty.

#GrandPrismaticSpring #nationalparks #NorthAmerica #panoramas #Photography #roadtrips #Scenic #Travel #UnitedStates #Wyoming
#YellowstoneNationalPark #yellowstone #hotsprings #MidwayGeyserBasin Yellowstone National Park - August, 2017

Vertical panorama of the Dragon's Mouth Spring in the Mud Volcano area of Yellowstone. Pictures don't do justice to this remarkable thermal feature, but you can see how it got its name as smoke appears to shoot out of a gaping mouth.

#dragonsmouthspring #nationalparks #NorthAmerica #panoramas
#Photography #roadtrips #Scenic #Travel #UnitedStates #Wyoming
#YellowstoneNationalPark #yellowstone #hotsprings Yellowstone National Park - August, 2017

This is a portion of Hayden Valley featuring rolling hills. Hayden Valley is one of the two prime locations for spotting wildlife in the park (the other being Lamar Valley), and one of the most popular destinations in the entire park.

#nationalparks #NorthAmerica #Photography #roadtrips #Scenic #Travel #UnitedStates #Wyoming #YellowstoneNationalPark #haydenvalley #panoramas #hills Yellowstone National Park - August, 2017

This is Lamar Valley, one of the two prime locations for spotting wildlife in the park. The other is Hayden Valley. I saw wildlife in both locations, though Hayden Valley had much more.

#nationalparks #NorthAmerica #Photography #roadtrips #Scenic #Travel #UnitedStates #Wyoming #YellowstoneNationalPark #lamarvalley #panoramas
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