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Ways Stephen King’s It Is Totally Different Than The Movies

Although IT: Chapter One did a wonderful job
of capturing the characters and the feel of the book, a lot of the novel’s specifics were
significantly altered. Now that the story is complete with the release
of IT: Chapter Two, we have a more complete picture of how the films match up to the book. Both the book and the movie jump back and
forth between two different time periods nearly three decades apart, but while the book alternates
between 1957 and 1985, the films are set in 1989 and 2016. Considering the novel was originally released
in 1986, making the ’80s timeline feel tangibly recent to its readers, it makes sense that
director Andy Muschietti and his team would update the film to feel contemporary to today’s
audiences. Although much of Derry and the story of IT
exists in what feels like a sort of timeless bubble, making the decade almost irrelevant,
the modern-day setting does alter the story in a few minor but effective ways. Although both the book and the films focus
on the same group of characters in two different time periods, the films draw a much firmer
line between past and present, with none of the adult versions of the characters even
making an appearance in IT: Chapter One. While Chapter Two isn’t quite as distinct
in its focus and includes a fair number of flashbacks, it’s still accurate to say that
Chapter One is about the kids and Chapter Two is about the adults. This is very different from King’s book, which
braids the two time periods together. Streamlining King’s narrative likely worked
to the films’ benefit, since it may have felt jarring to visually jump between time periods
as often as the book does. Splitting the films into a children-centric
film and an adult-centric film allowed each one to end with a climactic showdown against
Pennywise, even if the kids’ victory would prove tragically impermanent. When we first meet the adult Losers, they
haven’t spoken in many years, and the book reveals what each of them has been up to since
they moved away from Derry. “I’ll be forty and far away from
here. I thought you said you wanted to get out of
this town too.” Some of their professions remained the same
from the book to the film — Ben is an architect, Beverly is a fashion designer, Bill is an
author and screenwriter, and Mike is the Derry town librarian. But two of the Losers’ professions were changed
for the film. The screen version of Richie Tozier is now
a stand-up comedian rather than a radio DJ, and instead of a limo driver, Chapter Two’s
Eddie Kaspbrak is now a risk assessment analyst. In King’s version of the story, none of the
characters were exactly happy about having to fight IT again, but still felt bound by
the promise they made as children. In contrast, the adult characters in the movie
are all determined to leave Derry once they figure out what’s going on, leaving the town
at the mercy of IT, and need to be dragged back into the Losers Club kicking and screaming. We never learn exactly what IT is, in either
the book or the movies, but both attempt to give at least a partial explanation. IT is some sort of ancient malevolent force
that crashed into the Earth millions of years ago, in the spot that would one day become
Derry. In both versions of the story, characters
learn this backstory through a vision, but the circumstances surrounding that vision
are very different in the films than in the book. The way King wrote it, the child Losers attempt
to mimic a Native ritual that Ben read about to try to induce visions that will help them
learn more about IT. Only Mike and Richie end up being successful,
and are temporarily transported millions of years into the past, where they witness IT’s
arrival on Earth. However, in the movie, it’s the adult Mike
that gets the vision, through seeking out a Native tribe who give him drugs that enable
him to see the arrival of IT, along with the ritual their tribe used to fight IT. “Can you torch me?” Another big reveal the book made about IT
is the fact that IT is female, and the version of IT that the adult Losers encounter is pregnant. It’s probably for the best that the films
left this part out, leaving IT as a genderless, ageless entity. The film feels more self-contained and definitive,
without the sense that it might be teasing a sequel. In the book, after the Losers’ reunion dinner
at the Asian restaurant, the six adults decide to split up and move around Derry on their
own, allowing instinct to guide them. The characters in the book have a feeling
that in order to defeat IT, they’ll need to get back into the mindset they had as children,
casting aside their adult tendencies to make plans, and following their guts instead. In the film, while the Losers still split
up, their motivation is completely reversed. Mike tasks each of them with recovering their
childhood memories through finding a “token,” some sort of significant object that will
help empower them to defeat IT. Having such a defined plan seems to work against
the book’s insistence that defeating IT will require the adult Losers to embrace the uncertainty
and imagination of childhood. In a big departure from the novel, Richie
is revealed to have been harboring romantic feelings for Eddie ever since they were kids. In the book, the adult Richie is single, but
his sexuality never really comes into play. However, IT: Chapter Two spends much of the
film hinting that Richie is hiding his sexuality, and Pennywise preys on his fear of someone
discovering the truth. Richie’s big fear in the book is eyeballs,
which is definitely creepy, but doesn’t have much of an emotional weight to it. On the other hand, Richie’s heartbreaking
reaction to Eddie’s death at the end of Chapter Two helps drive home just how high the cost
of the Losers’ victory was. And at the end of the film, Richie’s visit
to the fence where he carved his and Eddie’s initials as kids, and his smile as he traces
the letters with his fingers, hints that his fear of discovery is now gone, killed with
Pennywise. In the book, while IT does assume the appearance
of Pennywise a fair amount of the time, it also spends a lot of time in a number of other
forms. Some of these guises are included in the films,
but several others are either not included or are only shown extremely briefly. In the book, IT appears to several of the
children as a gigantic bird, and during the climactic battle in the tunnels, it turns
into a giant eyeball and then a massive spider. The films did include a version of the spider,
but cut way back on the rest, substituting them with new, equally disturbing Pennywise
scenes, such as when the clown comes out of the projector to the kids in Chapter One. The way IT plays with the Losers’ perception
of reality was also altered for the films. In the book, during the scene when Beverly
goes to visit her childhood home, Mrs. Kersh’s house transforms into sticky, sugary candy,
playing on Beverly’s childhood fear of the witch from Hansel and Gretel, while the film
just sees it change from the warm apartment Beverly had perceived at first to the dilapidated
building it truly was. This is just one of the many changes the films
make to ITs many appearances, while still maintaining the terrifying sense that IT can
be anywhere, at any time, and we may never know until it’s too late. In the book, Henry Bowers attacks Mike at
the library, stabbing him in the femoral artery and putting him in the hospital, before heading
to the hotel, where he’s killed by Eddie. In the film, these events are reversed, with
Henry appearing in Eddie’s room first. Henry then attacks Mike at the library, but
the other Losers are right behind him after his attack on Eddie, and Henry is killed by
Richie before he can do any serious damage to Mike. This sets up an extremely different dynamic
for the final showdown between the adult Losers and IT, since in the book, Mike is in the
hospital and the rest of the group is forced to take IT on with only five people, one of
whom has a broken arm. In the film, all six are present and able-bodied
when they take on IT. IT is not the only ancient supernatural force
present in Stephen King’s book. There’s also an ancient, cosmic turtle, which
assists the child Losers in their quest to defeat IT. The turtle exists in a sort of void outside
of our reality, where Bill interacts with it and it gives him the Ritual of Chüd, a
battle of wills that draws on the power of Bill’s childhood imagination. While the films contain a few subtle visual
nods to the turtle, that’s as far as its involvement goes. Instead, the Ritual of Chüd is a Native ritual
which involves the burning of the Losers’ tokens in a mysterious artifact, chanting,
and strong belief. It’s eventually revealed that the ritual failed
the Native tribe who attempted to use it, and that Mike knew the whole time. The ritual fails, and it is ultimately the
Losers coming together to make Pennywise small in their minds that allows them to defeat
IT. The town of Derry is much more of a character
in the novel than in the films, and it is strongly implied that the town itself is linked
to IT and sustained by the same ancient evil. So when the adult Losers go on their final
quest through the sewers to destroy IT, the town gets increasingly more wounded. Derry gets pummeled by a vicious storm, and
the townspeople begin to awaken from IT’s thrall, feeling for the first time as though
something may be wrong. The closer the Losers get to their goal, the
more Derry suffers, with pipes exploding violently and buildings collapsing, until eventually
all of downtown Derry is destroyed. The film keeps the destruction of Pennywise
much more contained, with only the house on Neibolt Street collapsing in on itself after
the Losers succeed. Presumably the tunnels underneath the town
have also caved in, but it doesn’t seem to have any impact at all on the conditions on
the surface. One of the strange things about living in
Derry, in both the book and the films, is that once you leave the town, your memory
of it slowly fades, until you don’t even remember that you ever lived there. A big part of the adult Losers’ storylines
is the effort to recover their lost memories, since until Mike called, none of them remembered
knowing each other, or that they’d ever fought IT as children. In the book, this forgetting effect doesn’t
change after the defeat of Pennywise. Mike ends the novel musing that this forgetting
must mean that IT is truly dead now, and wondering how long it will be until even his journal
entries are completely erased. However, IT: Chapter Two takes the complete
opposite approach. Instead of bidding each other sad farewells,
knowing they’ll never see or remember one another again, they keep in touch. While the film’s happy ending is not as bittersweet
as King’s, it still serves to convey that this time, the Losers were successful, and
Pennywise is indeed gone for good. The tragic death of Stan Uris by his own hand
hangs heavy over the characters in both the book and IT: Chapter Two, with his friends
all assuming that he took his life because he was afraid. However, the film gives Stan a last goodbye
that the book never does, in the form of identical letters he writes to each of the Losers, which
he leaves for his wife to mail at some point following his death. He explains that he didn’t take his life for
the reasons they probably thought. He says that he knew he couldn’t bring himself
to return to Derry, but that he also knew that the cosmic strength that the Losers held
when they were all together might not reach its full potential if one of them didn’t believe. Giving Stan some of the final words is an
effective way of communicating that, even in death, Losers stick together. “But if we stick together, all of us, we’ll
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