Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Stand - The Plague

The Stand… possibly one of Stephen King’s best books and one of his more famous works. Even as a book, this story is very epic and tells of the classic tale of good vs. evil. In the book, the characters are so well developed that by the end of the story… you can’t help but shed a tear for them. There are brilliant character arcs, personalities and it controls the audience by tugging on their emotional strings. It has been compared to such works as Lord of the Rings and even ties into his other works like The Dark Tower. But, we are not talking about the book, instead we are talking about the TV miniseries that was adapted from the book and directed by Mick Garris.

The story follows a relatively basic outline; a government created virus is let loose from a compound and systematically kills off nearly every human in the world. The story then focuses on a group of survivors, each from around the U.S. who have been chosen by an elderly old woman sent by God to help fight against Randall Flagg, who wants to control the world. The movie, as well as the book, touches on subjects like Christianity, family and religious morals, good, evil and standing up for what you believe in.

Well, I want to quickly review over each section of the book and TV series. The book and movie are broken up into separate ‘books’ entitled The Plague, The Dreams, The Betrayal and The Stand. I will be quickly reviewing over The Plague.


This part of the story is exactly what is describes… it shows how the plague progresses and how people fall victim to it. What I really loved about this part was how well Garris shows the U.S. in turmoil and how well some of the set looks to show an apocalyptic world.

The opening sequence is that of an MP who rescues his family before the plague could take of them but in the haste of things, forgets to close the door and therefore he lets the virus out. “Don’t Fear the Reaper” plays as the camera strolls throughout the compound of dead bodies, setting up what is to come. The song brilliantly begins as though it’s heard from the radio.

Another thing I loved about this was how well the characters played out, not just the main characters but also the lesser secondary characters. They have emotion and Garris as well as King give them so much nourishment to outdo the main actors at times. They pay attention to them because they drive the story along. When they eventually get killed off, you are devastated and the way the military just hassles them around you feel as though it’s really happening. A good example would be Kathy Bates’ character.

Even the horror aspect of this movie is genius. Every time somebody meets Mother Abigail in the dream world they are reminded, by her, that ‘a storm is coming,’ she points to a ghastly looking scarecrow with glowing red eyes and a harlequin smile, ‘His storm.’ It’s frightening because you don’t know who he is and why he is evil. Plus, there are several shock moments when he appears out of nowhere and spooks people. It’s one of the more scary moments of the series. 

There is also this ‘fear of the unknown’ technique that I loved. Throughout the movie you are constantly reminded, through the radio and word of mouth, that there are military men shooting people, burning bodies, mass panic and hysteria but for the most part… you never really see all that much of it. You have to imagine it and you are in constant shock of what is happening. The film puts you right there in story and makes you follow the characters.

Also, the story right away sets you up for who is the hero and who is the villain. The hero characters are family friendly, caring, compassionate and loving and it’s a shame to see all this happen to them.

NOTE: Stick around for my next post on The Dreams. 


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