The Dark Is Rising

The Dark Is Rising sequence is a set of 5 books1 written by Susan Cooper between 1965 and 1977. It is without question my favorite series of books from when I was younger and it is also now being made into a movie. More acurately, the second book in the series is being made into a movie. When I heard about this, I tracked down the trailer on the official website2. After watching the trailer, my initial reaction was disappointment. It appears the story has undergone some substantial rewrites. As an additional bad choice by the producers, they’ve cast an American as Will Stanton2 and Ian McShane as Merriman Lyon. While I am an American myself; casting an American as the lead in a profoundly British story is hugely inappropriate. I really wish the producers of the movie had taken a note from the Harry Potter movies and limited their casting to the U.K. Also the reason I object to Ian McShane is I still think of him as Lovejoy and I think I’ll have great difficultly in taking him seriously in this movie. On the bright side, they did cast Christopher Eccleston as the Rider and I have no doubt about his ability to play that role.

So I am looking forward to seeing this and hopefully it won’t suck like the trailer.

1 Over Sea, Under Stone, The Dark is Rising, Greenwitch, The Grey King and Silver on a Tree
2 I’d give you a direct link to the trailer, but they built their site entirely in flash so there’s no way for me to do so. Apple now has the trailer for The Dark is Rising on their movie trailers page.
3 The main character of the book.


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I agree about the stupidity of casting Americans in such an English story. But I wanted to remind you that McShane’s a great character actor and Lovejoy was just one role in his 45 year career; give the guy a chance. I’m guessing you never watched Deadwood or Sexy Beast?

Nope. I’ve heard of Deadwood, but Sexy Beast is entirely unfamilar to me. I just took a look over Mr. McShane’s IMDB profile and it appears extensive. So it’s entirely possible he’ll do a fine job but my only experience with his work is Lovejoy.

Hey Mark,

I’m embarrassed to admit I’d never heard of Susan Cooper, or the book series. Thanks for the tip to an exciting way for me to spend next week. 🙂 (We’re going camping, and I’ve been trying to figure out what books to bring — hopefully I can get a couple of these in time.)

I laughed in your “About” page, because I too have people thinking I drink waaay more coffee than I actually do. That’s not to say I don’t drink a lot more than I probably should…


Well to be fair, the books are fairly old and I don’t believe they ever had much impact on the American public.

I had the same reaction – initial disappointment at seeing the story so changed, and especially at the seeming mis-casting of the two main characters.

Merriman always seemed more like a Max von Sydow or even Jack Palance (if he could do British…) – very old-looking, and yet still very powerful. Ian McShane seems too young – but he is a great actor, so I’m willing to keep an open mind.

I will definitely see this movie, and just HOPE that the dramatic rewrites and American Will add up to an interesting new story. At least the fact that it seems so different makes me a little less nervous about it “ruining” the story for me. I always prefer my own imaginings of what the various characters in a favorite book look and sound like.

I’m not familiar with Max von Sydow but I do think you’re right about Jack Palance. He’s got the right look to him and if he could pull off being British… He’d be about perfect.

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