Stephen King’s IT: Differences between the book, movie and miniseries

Author Stephen King answers questions at the Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Green Hills on Oct. 11, 1994, during his 4,300-mile, 10-stop tour to promote his book "Insomnia" and independent bookstores.94then10 038
Author Stephen King answers questions at the Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Green Hills on Oct. 11, 1994, during his 4,300-mile, 10-stop tour to promote his book "Insomnia" and independent bookstores.94then10 038 /

Stephen King is one of the most notable authors there is. The way he just immerses the reader into his works is fantastic. He has a way with words that just makes the reader want to read more and more and more. But there comes a point in everyone’s career when you make a simple mistake. A mistake that could cost future iterations of your work to be construed as NSFW. A scene if you will that was omitted in both versions of a movie with good reason.

I present to you, IT. A book. A mini-series. A two-part movie. All good works of art. All amazing in their own right. But of course, there would be subtle differences as well as large differences. Do they make the movies bad by omitting them? No. But of course, the reader of the book will never forget that one moment where you just go ‘huh?’ but gloss over it to just finish the book because it was so good regardless.

The scene in question is the moment where a group of teenagers, not of age all have a rousing game of twister with their one female friend. And I for one am glad they had omitted it from the mini-series and was worried they’d keep it in an unrated version of the two-part movie. I am glad for the sanity of Hollywood in this case. It’s not every day you read such a scene and are both intrigued and disgusted by it.

Stephen King is amazing at everything he does, but one has to wonder what he was thinking when he wrote such a scene. Was it to garner a reaction that he knew he would get? Possibly. Probably. Maybe he just didn’t think anything of it. I mean, years later we would have Game Of Thrones and HBO wasn’t afraid of anything in those books really. Either way, IT has been a source of controversy and entertainment from all three iterations. And I for one enjoyed all of them in my own way.

The mini-series is my first experience in the wonderful world of IT. A two-part mini-series which some loved and some didn’t. Some loved it just for the portion with the kids because they were great actors. And some hated it because of the adult portion of the movie. Mainly because the actors, while great in other works, were awkward in almost every scene.

Tim Curry was a saving grace for the film. He was a riot and a joy to watch. Now between the two movies, there are of course many differences. But there are also many similarities, which was to be expected. You never want to change the source material entirely because then it won’t be the original work. It’d just be another movie trying to be something it isn’t.

With that said, I enjoyed the new version of IT more than the miniseries. Mostly because I am a big Chastain fan but because the adult portion of the movie was way better than the adult portion of the miniseries. It was believable. It was enjoyable. And it was fun. Not the forced fun that the miniseries was. It was a toss-up between the kid portion on both because I enjoyed both a lot. But I’d have to go with the newer version because I felt their pain while in the miniseries it was kind of force-fed to us. Not to say that both weren’t enjoyable in their own rights.

But I did enjoy the newer version more than the old one. With the book, I didn’t connect to the characters as much as I did with the ones on the screen. And it wasn’t because I couldn’t visualize them coming from the book. Because obviously, the people who made the movies were able to do it. Stephen King was able to as well. And it wasn’t hard for me to visualize. But for some reason, it was hard to connect. I suppose that scene just burned an image into my brain that I will never get away from.

I will say that with every work that Stephen King writes, it is hard to put his books on the big screen. They are long and hard to condense into a movie which is why they went the miniseries route the first time and just split it off into two movies in the newer version. It happens a lot with his books. The Shining was like that as well with the 90s version because they wanted it to be true to the book as much as possible, whereas the Stanley Kubrick version was able to condense it into one part. Hats off to him. The Stand was like that as well. A mini-series as well. And then it was turned into a ten-part miniseries just recently.

Most books are like that. And in most cases the book is just condensed into a two hour movie and thrown to the masses. But with Stephen King, most wanted to stay true to the 900 pages or more that he had written and he himself had wanted to stay true to the books when he offered his insights into the movies and miniseries. So length stayed. And substance sometimes went out the window because of said length.

But back to the topic at hand. IT. A monster? An alien? Your worst fear? Whatever IT was, he could be goofy. He could be scary. And he can downright be horrible to look at. At the end of the day, IT was considered to be a construct of your mind. IT took on your fears and made them a reality. A werewolf, a mummy, a leper on the road. Whatever you feared, there IT would be.

Now that being said, in all the iterations of IT, the end result was kind of laughable. In the mini-series, it became a spider which they then ripped its heart out and destroyed it. In the new movie, they insulted the poor clown until it was small enough for them to destroy. And in the book, they used a ritual and a saying that helped Bill with his stutter to defeat IT. All three times were ridiculous.

What I did like about the new movie was that we actually did see the kids in the deadlights. We saw what happened to people after they woke up from being in the deadlights for so long as well. Beverly was given a kind of clairvoyance and was able to see her friend’s deaths. In the mini-series, they didn’t really touch on it. They spoke of it. But nothing more than ‘I wanted to be there in the deadlights’ basically.

Obviously in the book it was better explained. But it was nice to see it formed on the big screen and not just be some white light that froze people in place for a lengthy period of time. Now onto the differences between the characters on the big screen. I personally liked the Beverly in both forms from the new movie versus the mini-series. I just loved how they made her stronger in the movie than the miniseries.

She just seemed so weak and timid in the miniseries. And sure she showed her strength by leaving her jerk boyfriend in the miniseries but she still relied on her friends through the entirety of the miniseries whereas, in the movie, Beverly was strong. She bested her father by fighting back. And she did make the same mistakes as the miniseries Beverly but at the end of the day, she was the one who saved Ben and saved herself while she was always needing saving at all times.

I liked Ben from the miniseries more than the movie. As an adult he was more believable to be Ben than the chiseled man that replaced him in the movie. I can see him bettering himself and being a different man but to go to such extremes and then try to be that boy in love again? I didn’t believe it. All versions of Eddie and Richie were great and I have nothing but good things to say about them.

Stanley? I just hated it in general. He brought nothing to the book, the mini-series or the movie. Bill was more enjoyable in the movie but in the miniseries, I liked his adult version over his kid version. I just liked what he brought to the table versus the child that did nothing but whine. In the movie, I liked the kid version over the adult because I believed it more. And with the adult, he just didn’t scream Bill.

Mike was the biggest difference I had ever seen actually. In the miniseries he was weak. He almost died. In the movie? Even as a kid he was amazing. He was tough. And the diamond in the rough so to speak. Growing up, he still maintained that strength and did not let Henry kill him. He fought back until the end. Now the villains of the book, miniseries and movie were all good at being villains.

But with the movie version of Henry, I felt his story. They gave us insight into his home life and it showed us why he was the way he was. His father shaped and molded him into the psychopath that he was. And of course, he was going to snap at the drop of a dime. Or the words of a clown.

In the end, I enjoyed all versions in my own little way. Each iteration has its problems. Has their pros and cons. And there isn’t a version that is just the end all be all version. I can still find enjoyment out of all three even with that one scene in the book. I normally just skim over it and skip it if I need to. It doesn’t add anything to the story and it obviously didn’t bring anything to the overall enjoyment I got from the book.

But with the one glaring difference the book had over the movie and miniseries, I felt it didn’t change the pacing at all. If anything, it changed the pacing of the book. It brought everything to a halt. And I didn’t even finish the book the first time I read it. It’s also very hard to hear it in audible form. So I normally skip the portion and move on now. It wasn’t needed. But I suppose the shock value was there.

Regardless, IT will always hold a special place in my heart and as much as I know that Hollywood is just cashing in on ‘prequels, re-imaginings, sequels, and remakes’, I did enjoy the remake of IT just as much if not more than the mini-series and the book.

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