It hasn’t been a month since the release of a film that some of us have waited decades to see, and I realize that some of us are guilty of what is held as one of the greatest sins of a Gunslinger; we have “forgotten the face of our father”. If you happen to be a “Constant Reader”, you’ll likely have been exponentially more involved and excited about the film release of The Dark Tower. I don’t know firsthand if you arrived in costume for your first viewing but I would like to believe you strode into the theater with the echoes of spurs in your mind. Then, as the lights dimmed and you possibly imagined a certain type of door opening to permit you access to The Gunslinger’s world, you may have gotten lost.
A certain SNL skit featuring William Shatner springs to mind. Shatner appear at an Star Trek convention and during an open Question and Answer session is mercilessly grilled on minute details about the show until he snaps in exasperation only to yell at the crowd, “Get a Life!”. Now, I’m not implying that you are being that obsessive, but I have a reminder that may help you when discussing with others or reading reviews that do not grasp a key concept of the Dark Tower. This movie could be a prequel or a sequel to the series. This story could exist simultaneously alongside it without altering the story that you and I read and experienced for so many years. That’s the way the multiple dimension thing works.
I will try to dance around actual spoilers for the remainder of the piece while we explore what many reviews may have missed, but, I’m not going to try too hard so if you are not a Die-hard or have not seen the movie, I’d steer clear were I you.
The magnum opus of the Stephen King Universe is based upon the Robert Browning poem Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came and both the Dark Tower Series and the fictional structure of the same name, towering into the sky, serve as the spoke of many “wheels of fate”. This nomenclature is used to define what we would consider a lifetime in one dimension. One turn of “Ka’s” wheel in the parlance of those from the realm of the Gunslingers. “Ka” being what we in Keystone Earth refer to as fate, destiny, or karma. This is to be understood to move forward, one trip from cradle to crave is a turn of the wheel. In its purpose as a central spoke for the universe, the Dark Tower holds many wheels stacked upon one another to create a multidimensional universe. Congratulations! You are in there somewhere, too. You are there several times, on several wheels, all at the same time. Jake is there many times and so is Roland.
Let’s focus on Jake for these wheels. Jake is a character in many stories and exists on different wheels simultaneously. If we refer to the “entity” of Jake instead of focusing on him as a little boy, we would get a little further down the path. Jake was also a pigeon in a certain prison. That feathered version attempted to escape the confines of the dark and foreboding place and was thought by many of the inmates to have done so until his broken form was discovered. That sounds vaguely like another attempt to escape a dark place. Perhaps you recall an escape attempt alongside Roland that ended similarly? You may also remember the movie adaptation of Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, in which Jake is a raven rescued by Brooks from a fall into the yard of the prison and is nursed to health and kept as a pet until shooed away toward freedom upon the old con’s release. If you stretch your thinking to the Tower, did the entity of Jake fall until he was eventually saved? You may have been waiting for that fall in the new movie, but you didn’t get it. Why? This movie adaptation shows Roland hold Jake high above a certain doom with clear distrust and nearly letting him go until he stares into the boy’s eyes. Then, Roland pulls him back from the fall and proceeds to save him over and over throughout the story. He does this and the story is different than the novel because this is a different wheel. This is the wheel where Roland acts as Brooks did and saves the fallen Jake. As it is said in the books, “Fate is a wheel”. In truth, fate is many wheels.
We will have to get used to this sort of thing as the King Multiverse grows and pulses. We cannot forget the face of our father. We will have to get a life. Truly, Constant Reader, we will have to remember that we have many lives on the wheels of the tower with many turns ahead and we’ll need to mark them carefully, aye.