Last week, I heard news that the two-movie, big-screen adaptation of Stephen King’s It had been put on hold and was, most likely, not going to happen. My first thought was that since this wasn’t a King adaptation from Frank Darabont, this was probably not necessarily a bad thing. My other was that the novel has been adapted once before as a mini-series with Tim Curry playing the memorable role of Pennywise the Clown.
I’ve seen the mini-series and I’ve got to say that I wasn’t overly thrilled with it. It was good, but no where quite as good as the book itself. Of course, that’s a trend for a lot of King’s work when it comes to making the jump to the screen.
Part of it is that this one weights in at over 1,000 pages. I recall checking it out from the library at age 12 or 13 when it had just come out in paperback. The novel seemed huge and would be the longest book I’d read to that point — or at least I think it was. I wasn’t sure that I’d have time to get it all read in the three weeks the book was mine.
But I started on it and was immediately hooked.
Then, I got the stomach flu and ended up stuck in bed with a high fever for three days. I was so miserable with the flu that I didn’t even want to get up and stagger to the couch to watch TV. My parents brought in an old black and white TV for me to watch the daily showing of Doctor Who (the memories of the glory days of KTEH….) and I tried to feel better. And while I was awake, I was riveted to It.
The story is one of a some kind of evil that stalks the small Maine town of Derry. The evil manifests itself during the childhood and the later adulthood of a group of friends, outsiders and rejects who are able to vanquish the evil but not quite kill it one summer in their youth. The story flashes back and forth between time periods and King spends a good portion of the novel crafting his characters and building to the final showdown.
I read this one in three days, stuck in bed and loved it. It was scary, intense and it’s definitely in the upper pantheon of great Stephen King novels. Yes, it’s a long book but King makes it worth every single last page. I recall being riveted to the final battle between our heroes and the evil force. King painted a vivid picture in my mind of the battle and it was one, quite frankly, that the mini-series couldn’t live up to. It also didn’t help that none of the actors chosen for the mini-series remotely resembled the images I’d crafted for them in my minds’ eye.
I’m tempted from time to time to go back and re-read this one. I may just do it one day and see if it’s still as great now as it was then.