The Dark is Rising film, based on the book The Dark is Rising, was released in U.S. theaters on October 5, 2007, and on Region 1 DVD March 18, 2008. Filming took place in Romania. On July 27, 2007, the film was officially re-titled The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising.
- Director: David L. Cunningham
- Writer: John Hodge
- Producer: Marc E. Platt
- Distributor: 20th Century Fox & Walden Media
- Length: 99 Minutes
- Alexander Ludwig - Will Stanton
- Christopher Eccleston - The Rider
- Ian McShane - Merriman Lyon
- Wendy Crewson - Mary Stanton
- Gregory Smith - Max
- Jonathan Jackson - The Walker
- James Cosmo - Frank Dawson
- Amelia Warner - Maggie Barnes
- Frances Conroy - Miss Greythorne
- John Benjamin Hickey - John Stanton
- Jim Piddock - Old George
- Drew Tyler Bell - James Stanton
- Mark Donovan - Fight Promoter
- Emma Lockhart - Gwen
- Gary Entin - Robin Stanton
- Edmund Entin - Paul Stanton
- Jordan J. Dale - Stephen Stanton
- Stephen Evans - Trickster
- Sylvester Morand - Vicar
- Maria Miroiu - Rider's Mother
- Music: Christophe Beck
The Dark is Rising is the first film adaptation of Susan Cooper's acclaimed The Dark Is Rising Sequence. The film tells the story of Will Stanton, a young man who learns he is the last of a group of warriors who have dedicated their lives to fighting the forces of the Dark. Traveling back and forth through time, Will discovers a series of clues which lead him into a showdown with forces of unimaginable power. With the Dark once again rising, the future of the world rests in Will's hands.
Controversy/Differences from the book
While the original story clearly is about British characters in Britain, the film has the Stanton family as Americans living in Britain.
Those who have read the books are also extremely concerned that the screenwriter has taken out all reference to King Arthur - the integral part of the whole series.
The main character Will Stanton has also been turned into a 13 (soon to be 14) year-old instead of the innocent 11-year-old. Among a myriad of other changes, his father has gone from being a jeweler to a physics professor with a history of researching the light and the dark - another change which totally goes against the storyline as the fact he was a jeweler is an important part in the early stages of The Dark Is Rising.
The cast and crew seemed to have differing levels of interest/knowledge of their character roles and the storyline. The screenwriter John Hodge admits to never having read the books other than The Dark is Rising, stating, "I haven't dipped into the other books at all."
The director never read the books, just the screenplay, but has stated that Susan Cooper "has mixed feelings about the movie". Coopers concerns were proved to be valid. She queried the following:-
- Why has the Celtic mythology been excised and replaced with a more Christianity based Hollywood image of Good vs. Evil, Angels (shown as Old Ones) vs. the Devil (the Rider)?
- The ambiguity with the film title. Why was it necessary to change it from one country to the other? Why the change at all?
- The major changes to the Stanton family, changing Tom, from the eldest child who sadly died, to the kidnapped twin, held by the Dark for about 13 years.
The film storyline revolves more firmly around Will but major features of the story are radically different. The signs no longer represent the major elements, they are now mystical icons with no common element, the Black rider is now a mix of the White and Black Riders ( Ref/ Silver on the tree). Amelia Warner is quoted as saying she found the difference between the book and film confusing, as she had read the books. Christopher Eccleston has also read the book, saying, "I read the book for this and enjoyed it very much. And obviously it's close to me because it's couched in Celtic mysticism and it's a very, very intensely British book." Jonathan Jackson read the book and was surprised at the differences with the script. Ian McShane however expressed some difficulty with the prose which he describes as dense, written in Old English, and from the 1970s. Ludwig makes it clear from his interviews that he has not read the story either.
Additionally, The Walker, portrayed by Jonathan Jackson, has been rewritten as a younger person with a different plot about the loss of his soul, which was trimmed out of the final release. The twins now feature as semi-bully characters, exploiting their little brother, with Max, the university student, now protrayed as a jealous introverted university drop-out.
This lack of interest in the storyline and the context of the book within the series changes the entire ethos of the film. The central characters seem to have been re-written to appeal to the pre-pubescent American market, the script-writers adding in stereotypical English mannerisms and speech patterns.
- Region 1 release: The Seeker