Translating IT to Film

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Translating IT to Film

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I never thought I would join this debate, but I’m finally taking a stand. IT was better as a book. IT Chapter Two was released this month to finish the story that part one started on Sept. 8, 2017. Both movies are good from a film standpoint, but the true experience comes from reading the novel.

Now I know that movies are just inherently more interesting. I completely understand if you don’t have time to sit down and read the novel version, which is a massive 1,137 pages. However, I will justify that by saying that King uses just about every single page of the book to craft a universe that really feels like all of this happened and you’re just reading the characters’ accounts of it.

In the book, King gives so much information that it almost starts to feel unimportant. However, I like oversharing because it starts to paint such a vivid picture of these fictional characters. You start to know them better than themselves.

The fictional town of Derry, Maine, also has an atmosphere that makes you sick the more you read about it. In the film, when the characters are called back to Derry, they all are visibly shaken, with Richie even getting actually sick. When I read in the book that they had to go back, I got as uncomfortable as the characters in the book.

The big thing that doesn’t even make it into the film is the Stephen King multiverse. All of King’s novels are related and take place in a multiverse. This is shown to us in the book when (spoilers) Bill meets a giant, celestial turtle named Maturin who is the natural enemy of IT and even burped out the universe when he had a stomach-ache. The turtle advises a young Bill on how to beat IT during the Ritual of Chüd, a technique that transports Bill to a different universe to fight IT in a battle of wits. Here, Bill and the Losers Club fight back by believing. They believe hard enough in the power of the silver bullets that they become real.

As crazy as this sounds, keep in mind that King wrote this in 1986, so he may have started the trend of “believing = power,” but when you’ve been reading hundreds of pages of evidence and buildup, it feels so rewarding to know that a group of children, although small, is the best enemy of IT because of their inherent power of imagination. Watching the children in part one mercilessly beat down Pennywise with chains and metal pipes is satisfying for a film, but Bill destroying it in the novel by just being smarter and braver will always be better in my heart.

The Ritual of Chüd, in the movie, isn’t anywhere as cool. It doesn’t transport them to another universe, and it actually just doesn’t work in the movie. It gets treated like an ancient Native American belief and takes up a good two hours of the movie to be meaningless in the end.

The two movies were good, and I’d even say that part one was great. I think that considering the massive source material, director Andy Muschietti did a good job of bringing Pennywise back to his rightful status as one of the scariest monsters ever to be created. I also think this movie was casted incredibly well, with amazing actors who all did their part in bringing this novel to life. Without powerful performances from actors like Finn Wolfhard, Bill Hader and Bill Skarsgård, the movie would not have been as enjoyable.

If you really enjoyed these movies and want more, I urge you to check out the book. It gives so much more content and provides a much deeper understanding of the psyches of the characters and everyone in the town of Derry. If you’re worried about the page number, trust me, it reads pretty quickly, considering you won’t put it down.

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