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Humanity's Last Stand
The Stand (Stephen King)  (DVD)
Member Name: sandemp
The Stand (Stephen King)  (DVD)
Date: 24/01/05, updated on 25/01/05 (204 review reads)
Advantages: Follows the book
After having watched previous screen adaptations of Stephen King novels and been grievously disappointed, I was, as you can imagine a little apprehensive of the prospect of devoting six hours of my life to the mini series The Stand. But as I received a DVD boxset of the same said adaptation as a Christmas gift from my devoted children I felt duty bound to watch it, over the space of three nights.
After the accidental release of a killer super 'flu mysterious dreams lead to the few survivors banding together in one of two camps. Those that are “good” are drawn to Mother Abigail, who is 106 and seems to talk directly to God. The others are drawn to Randall Flagg, who epitomises all that is evil. As the two camps are drawn into conflict, it is time for humanity to make its last stand.
There are a good number of characters in the series, each of which develops in their own way throughout. Some of the characters are good, some not so and some are downright evil. It would not be fair of me, to give my own analysis of each of them, as the series itself does this far better than I ever could. I think this is what was so great about it, that fact that it allowed enough time, for each character to develop fully and become multi-dimensional.
Now, I don't know if you feel the same way, but in my opinion the mark of good casting is that you don't actually notice the actors/actresses performance. After all, it is the characters that you should be feeling empathy for, not whomsoever is playing them. In this respect, a fantastic job was done by all. I can honestly say I was more enthralled in what was happening in the film rather than one or two of the actors performances. So a pat on the back to all concerned, the actors did their job, and were obviously well cast in the roles they played. Now I could at this point list all the cast, but I really feel there is no need, as who was playing each part was actually irrelevant, it will be the characters you care about, not who played them.
However, do look out for Stephen King in a cameo role at the end of the film.
But Why Six Hours
The original novel involves a long, and very complex story. Even lasting six hours, the mini series does not contain all the minor storylines, or as much character development as the book. However, it does come close, and if had been any longer, only a Stephen King fanatic would have had the endurance to watch it to the end. I found the six hours a pretty good compromise between completism and watchability.
My copy came on two discs, each lasting for three hours. The first disc set up the characters and basic storyline, while all the action happened in the second disc. That doesn't mean that the first disc was boring, quite the opposite, it was a fantastic piece of work, that left me gagging to find out what happened next (even though I already knew).
There is a religious undertone running through the whole of the series, as there was in the book. After all, this film is about good defeating evil. While it isn't exactly overplayed, there are many references to God, submitting to his will, and how the choices made by the characters, in relation to God, affect the outcome. Somehow, even, the main “bad guy”, Randall Flagg, seems synonymous with the devil. Perhaps King intended this to be a modern outlook on New Testament, or perhaps that's just me thinking too hard, but I personally could see many key similarities between the two.
So Is It A Horror?
In the conventional sense, this cannot be classed as a horror. Although containing some elements of horror, it plays more on our psychological fears. There is no monster stalking the characters, except that which plays on their mind. The fear of dying from the super 'flu, the fear of being alone and the fear of not being in control of our own destiny. The is very little blood and gore, so if that's what you want from a horror, then this is not for you.
There are, however, some horrific characters, each showing some human trait, of which we may detest. There also plenty of dead and decaying bodies throughout the film, but there was no hide behind the settee factor.
This psychological fear seems to now be increased by the political climate, and the very real fear of biological attack.
Feature running time : 6 hours (approx.)
Rating : 15
I have the 2 disc DVD version which consists of the following :
Screen : Full Screen (4:3)
Languages : English (5.1 Dolby Digital)
Sub Titles : English for the hearing Impaired.
Extras : Feature commentary by Stephen King, Director and cast.
Price : £6.99 from Play.com.
This is a long series, at six hours it's probably the longest adaptation of a Stephen King novel that I've ever watched. But, it's fantastic, I watched it over three consecutive nights, and was so engrossed in the film that the time flew by.
If you only ever watch one screen adaptation of a Stephen King novel, make sure it's this one, as it outshines all others by a huge degree.