The Dark Tower: The Art of the Film text by Daniel Wallace
Scribner (July 2017)
208 pages; $27.19 hardcover
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand
Some might view books like The Dark Tower: The Art of the Film as big, expensive brochures for upcoming movies, but for me they’ve always provided a fascinating glimpse into the process of bringing these large-scale extravaganzas to our screens. Even when they come from the kind of rich source material of, say, an eight-book series written by Stephen King, there’s a lot of designing and refining that goes into the look of a movie like The Dark Tower. This volume gives us a glimpse of that, but I’ll confess that it left me wanting much, much more.
The production history that culminated in the release of The Dark Tower has been a long and convoluted one, to say the least. I can only imagine the mounds of production art, design concepts and revised scripts that have been produced along the way. While I understand that getting a comprehensive look at materials that belong to different creative teams and studios is virtually impossible, I can’t help but wish this particular Art of the Film was a more comprehensive history of the making of the film.
So, what are we left with? I won’t be able to say for sure until I see the movie, but it looks like this is, for the most part, a representation of the designs and ideas that made it to the screen. The Dark Tower: The Art of the Film is a mix of concept art, publicity stills and behind-the scenes photos, accompanied by text written by novelist Daniel Wallace (Big Fish). There’s some beautiful stuff here—alien landscapes, elaborate architecture, machines that appear to be hybrids of old and new technology. The designs in these pages lean more toward science than mysticism—hopefully the film will strike the tenuous balance between the two in the same way the books did.
There are several glimpses of things that will be recognizable to Dark Tower readers—machines stamped with the North Central Positronics logo, for example, as well as portals and dogans. My personal favorites are the close-ups of Roland’s guns and the Horn of Eld, pivotal pieces of Dark Tower lore.
A word of warning to those wanting to go into The Dark Tower blind—the book seems to follow the exact chronology of the film, and Wallace’s text gives quite a bit away regarding its approach to the story. Time will tell if The Dark Tower: The Art of the Film is a document of the opening chapter of a groundbreaking multi-media series, or a shrine to a failed experiment. Either way, Constant Readers and Dark Tower junkies will want to save a space for this in their collections.