I just finished a mind-bending and very moving novel, Shadowland by Peter Straub. Best known for his collaborations with Stephen King, he’s sort of the brainy half of that duo, perhaps resulting in a relative (lack of) popularity — his work is heady and at times difficult, but definitely worth the effort. But now, it seems his excellent early novel is headed for the big screen — in 3D no less.
First published in 1980, Shadowland is a long, sometimes dense book about two boys in the 1950’s who are apprenticed to a master magician. It’s both frightening and touching, and a perfect vehicle for today’s effects-driven films. Lots of crazy phantasmagoric imagery abounds — it’s sort of like Disney’s Sorcercer’s Apprentice sprung to life in a darker and much more disturbing way. In fact, the book comes close to being one of those classified as ‘unfilmable,’ but I don’t think it is — the filmmakers just needed a couple of decades for the technology to catch up to Straub’s incredible imagery.
So far it looks like the always excellent Bill Nighy will be playing the older magician. If this is any indication of the path the filmmakers are taking, the movie could be an incredibly beautiful and mind-bending film. Straub has had precious few film adaptations of his work (as opposed to Stephen King’s 17 million or so) and so its nice to see the bald old man getting his due.
For my own viewing pleasure, I’m wishing them well.