The Dark Rises Into Your Local Theater

August 30, 2007 | 2 books mentioned 1 2 min read

coverFor those of you who still haven’t come to terms with the fact that the Harry Potter franchise has ended, might I suggest Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising series? In the wake of the success of the Harry Potter films, the second book in the series, The Dark Is Rising has been made into a motion picture, with a release date in early October.

Although the poster and initial information regarding the movie don’t look particularly promising (if low production values and child actors don’t give you pause, the preview’s dialogue certainly will), the books themselves are excellent and should provide succor for young (and young at heart) Potterites interested in continuing their journey into the realms of fantasy.

The story follows a boy, Will Stanton, who learns he is the last of a magical race known as the Old Ones. This revelation is soon followed by the realization that he must use his newfound powers to battle an evil force known only as “The Dark” (it’s rising, don’t you know.) Of course, in the grand tradition of young adult fiction, it’s not enough that Will has to deal with the nefarious powers of some ancient evil, he also has to overcome the trials of “growing up.” The books are set in Great Britain in the sixties and seventies and Cooper combines a winning look into British life at the time with extensive use of Arthurian legend and Welsh mythology to tell a story that, although somewhat lacking the light touch Rowling brought to Potter, never fails to entertain.

As for the movie, for better or worse, I fully plan to spend ten dollars and two hours of my life this fall reliving the many hours of my childhood spent engrossed in the saga. Here’s hoping it delivers.

Bonus Link: A review from the book’s release in 1973

is a Washington correspondent for the Japanese news service Kyodo News. He writes on US-Japan relations, reporting from the White House and the Pentagon. In his spare time, he works as a translator. He is currently writing a police noir set in Japan. Follow him on Twitter @benjamindooley.

One comment:

  1. The movie studio invested in the rights to the novel The Dark is Rising; what they created was something very different. As a banal kiddie movie, maybe they've done a good job. As a highly anticipated adaptation of Cooper's novel? They've pretty much let everyone down by relying on kiddie sci fi cliches and derivative characterizations — Home Alone meets Harry Potter meets a touch of Spiderman — whoosh! Will the geeky kid get to kiss the girl? Does anyone really care? Will the studio recoup its investment? Well, they've stripped the story of anything meaningful and souped it up with a bunch of overused hype — so likely they will.

    Fans of the book, who have come to expect respectful treatment of properties after the success of Lord of the Rings and Narnia, are pretty disappointed with the massive changes made to Dark is Rising, and many have expressed throughout the net that they will not watch this film. The numbers may not be significant, but Walden/Fox certainly has alienated what could have been a potential fan base for their poorly adapted movie.

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