Published Sep 05, 2019Stephen King's It is an epic behemoth of a book. Both the 1990 It miniseries and the present film iteration split their adaptation into two parts, to accommodate a story told through 27 years, seven protagonists, and side character B-plots, not to mention its sprawling themes of friendship, evil, bigotry and trauma.
Adapting an 1,138 page book into just under six hours of film necessitates a lot of shuffling and editing to craft a compelling narrative, while still paying a respectful homage to an incredibly iconoclastic novel, and IT Chapter Two, like its predecessor, has an ungodly amount of narrative, character development and lore to translate to the big screen.
"When you make a movie, you have to tighten everything and get those wheels of tension spinning, and make all the events consequential and interaced into each other," says director Andy Muschietti. "Sometimes you have to create new stuff to make that consequentiality happen."
While IT Chapter Two doesn't make any sweeping new changes to the book's bones, it does play with our understanding of certain characters, adding elements that act as cinematic shorthand to explain developments that occur over hundreds of pages in the book, as well as choosing to filter the novel's more mystical, abstract elements through the POV of our central protagonists. "You have to take the story of the book and translate it into film language. It's a different kind of narrative."
"The one element that I really wanted to preserve in [Chapter Two] was the dialogue between the two timelines," continues Muschietti. Chapter One is entirely centered on the young Losers — unlike the book, in which the past and present narratives are intertwined. This was done intentionally, says Muschietti, in order to "deliver a very pure emotional experience." But IT Chapter Two is a film about the legacy of lasting trauma, and flashbacks were necessary to remind us of the children these damaged adults once were. "Because we're reintroducing the characters when they're 40, we need to re-establish that emotional connection for the audience."
"Andy chose very wisely to give the end of the story a much more personal and intimate feel," adds producer Barbara Muschietti. And indeed, IT Chapter Two is concerned less with periphery subplots and more with the Losers — their intense spiritual and emotional bond with each other, their tangled, post-Pennywise lives, and how, despite how deeply buried it may be, they still haven't lost the purity they once had as children.