After years of pre-production hiccups (RIP the Cary Fukunaga directed/Will Poulter led IT that will never be) and then a couple months of production teases, the first trailer for the re-imagining of Stephen King’s IT has arrived!

 

So, to those new to the circus: This is a reinterpretation of the infamous Stephen King novel IT (not really a remake as the original was a TV movie). The book follows seven kids, deemed the Losers, in the small town of Derry, Maine who must do battle with a shape-shifting, child-eating  creature who takes the form of Pennywise the Clown. IT is directed by Andy Muscietti, known for his previous horror film MAMA, and stars Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise.

Those who read the novel (or were forever scared by the 90’s miniseries) may notice two drastic departures from the source material in the trailer. First is that this iteration of IT seems to exclude the portion of the novel that follows the Losers as adults, focusing solely on the adventures of the Losers as children. Second is that, while the original novel and series were set in the 50s, IT (2017) seems to jump ahead and places the story firmly in the late 80s. One interesting aspect of this time jump is that it would place the adult counterparts of the Losers squarely in modern times (read: 2000s).

But do any of these changes matter? The short answer is sort of.

IT (2017) is the first of a “duo-logy” and will follow the Losers’ childhood battles with Pennywise. The second or sequel will follow the adult Losers as they face off with Pennywise yet again. So, theoretically, the entire story will still be told.

Officially released poster.

On the other hand, this film will also take the kids of Derry out of the age of sock hops and malt shops and into the age of New Wave and Schwarzenegger flicks. Beyond the obvious technological advances, King wrote the novel to follow his own lineage; a child of the 50s and an adult in the 80s, King was focused on how different the world had become in only a few decades. Starting from the postpartum glow of the Baby Boom, to the wars and assassinations of the 60s, to the corruption of the 70s, and finishing up at the Reagan-led attempt at making the 80s “like the old days”.

King purists may call foul. “This completely kills the spirit of the novel!” or “you completely lose the analogy of the changing winds of America!”, a blog may read somewhere.

READ: Find some comedy in the tragedy with SH*T MY PRESIDENT SAYS!

But, does it? Turmoil certainly occurred from the 50s to the 80s, but no one can say that the years since the 80s has been any less chaotic to put it mildly. We’ve had wars, terrorist attacks, corrupt politicians, racial divides. In many ways, it mirrors the same changes that King saw back when he wrote the novel.

The film now takes place in 1989. George H.W. Bush is president. America is nearing the end of the decade, and our most bitter enemy, the sickle and hammer, is ready to fall. America’s glory days are on the horizon, glistening with hope and opportunity. But, as the old saying goes, all that glitters is not gold. Crack has ravaged the inner cities, the AIDS epidemic is given the silent treatment by an unsympathetic government, and, in 1991, Rodney King is beaten on camera, giving America its first hard lesson on racialized policy, brutality and abuse.

The infamous Rodney King tape, 1991.

The reality of post-1989 isn’t far off from the reality of 1957, when the novel takes place. Ever present in the American story are themes of international conflict, homegrown racial tensions, political corruption and dissatisfaction, and bloody, questionable wars. The America of the 1950s and the 1980s, or at least the rose-tinted views we have of them, are veneers for the same dirty truth.

A protestor attacked by a police dog during a civil rights march, 1963.

When King finished his novel in 1985, he was writing about a country that had drastically changed since he was a child, a country he wasn’t sure he recognized anymore. When scrutinized, however, King realized that the America of Now, whenever now may be, is the same America of Then, just with a different finish on the same set of problems.

READ: Let’s get political with our horror films, why don’t we?

Moving the timeline up in this new film, 1989 to present day, doesn’t change that. The dirty underbelly of America still remains, not unlike the dirty sewers where Pennywise still resides.

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