The Stand Movie Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

The Stand / “Confrontation”

Genre Supernatural, Horror, Fantasy, Drama
Creators Josh Boone
Cast: James Marsden (Stu Redman), Odessa Young (Franny Goldsmith), Owen Teague (Harold Lauder), Alexander Skarsgard (Randall Flagg), Whoopi Goldberg (Abigail Freemantle’s Mother), Amber Heard (Nadine Cross), Jovan Adepo (Larry Underwood) ), Henry Zaga (Nick Andros), Nat Wolff (Lloyd Henried), Brad William Hanke (Tom Cullen) and others.
CBS Television Studios, HBO
Year of issue 2020-2021

King began working on The Confrontation almost immediately after finishing The Shining, living at the time in Boulder, Colorado. The usually prolific writer was stuck this time for a long three years – the blame for everything was the scale that the author swung at, always wanting to write his own version of The Lord of the Rings, but in an American setting, and … Doctor Who co-creator Terry Nation. In 1975, when King was just starting to write his Magnum opus, Nation created the series Survivors for the BBC about a group of people who survived an apocalyptic plague pandemic that was accidentally released by a Chinese scientist and spread around the world via air travel, and a year later the screenwriter published book based on his series. King, who by that time was finishing the draft version of “Confrontation”, was not at all happy about the similarity of the setting and plot, because he already had enough problems – having placed a huge number of main and secondary characters and many independent storylines in the book, the king of horror ran into a writer’s block . He increasingly disliked the motivation and actions of the heroes who began to revive technology after the end of the world. The act is completely logical and expected, but it runs counter to the themes of mysticism and divine providence, which, according to the author’s intention, should have dominated the book. In the end, King coped with the block, after which he sarcastically remarked that for this he “needed to kill only half of the main cast” of positive characters, but the misadventures did not end there.


“Confrontation” turned out to be colossal – about 1200 pages, King did not write anything like it either before or after, and Doubleday publishing house flatly refused to publish the book, since its price in this case would be too high. There are also rumors that the Doubleday printing press was simply not designed for such a volume. Be that as it may, King was confronted with the fact that the book needed to be reduced to 400 pages, which he did. In an abbreviated form, the book was published in 1978 and did not receive any significant awards, after which the author broke off relations with the publisher, only to resume them twelve years later to work on The Complete and Uncut Edition, in which he shifted the time of action to 1990, updated the cultural references, nearly brought back the original volume, and rewrote the opening and ending. This version, which became a bestseller, until 2012 we published only once, in 1995, under the title “Exodus” (in the form of a two-volume book), all other versions were usually cut down, sometimes even in comparison with the version of the 78th year, and turned out to be , to put it mildly, not very much.


Such a long introduction was necessary in order to convey one simple idea – of course, it is possible to try to screen the primary source of such a scale, but this is often a thankless task, since serious compromises cannot be avoided – you will have to cut it, and if the author himself succeeds, as we see, with difficulty, then what is the demand from screenwriters? The mini-series of ’94 turned out to be expectedly incomplete, but quite good, most likely due to the fact that King was the second producer and was almost constantly present on the set. Nine years ago, they started talking about shooting a feature film, but the curse of the book, apparently, passed to the tape – directors and screenwriters changed, ratings, budget and plans for Warner Bros. The studio was going to shoot a three-hour film, then a quadrology, then first launch a series, and then move on to big screens. As a result, the film rights from the Warners passed to CBS, and Josh Boone, who was the last candidate for the director’s chair back at Warner Bros., became the showrunner. Boone’s personality has already called into question the success of the upcoming series – the last good film for which Boone would be responsible as a director or screenwriter came out almost never, before “Confrontation” he shot only three tapes, one of which was “The Fault in Our Stars”, and the second is the long-suffering New Mutants. Actually, there was no surprise.


From the point of view of the plot, everything is the same as before – due to a leak in a secret government laboratory, a superinfluenza strain, popularly nicknamed Captain Thrips, gets out, after which the human population begins to rapidly decline. The survivors are divided into two camps – the righteous gather in Boulder, coming there after those who are called in dreams by the prophetess mother Abigail (Whoopi Goldberg), from where, according to God’s plan, they will revive life, but without such dependence on technology. Sinners come to Las Vegas to worship the Man in Black (Alexander Skarsgard), who plays the part of the Antichrist. Of course, the two camps simply cannot coexist, which means that the very confrontation is coming.

The new miniseries in many ways scrupulously follows the letter of the original, but the more you look, the more you are convinced that Boone places the accents incorrectly and cuts out completely the wrong thing. So, the vast majority of key events hit the screen, and with minimal changes, which even the best film adaptations of the horror king cannot boast of, but almost all minor plot twists and the famous King routine have sunk into oblivion, which is why the series takes on a rather insane pace, completely not characteristic of “Confrontation”. Something is constantly happening here, the characters have no time to reflect or build convincing relationships, and the audience has no chance to become attached to the characters. New characters continue to pour in like a bucket, old ones die without causing much emotional shock.


The whole road to Boulder is shamelessly castrated, in the plot we see the beginning of the epidemic, get acquainted with the key characters, find out how they react to the onset of the extinction of mankind (how humanity itself reacts to this fact, for the most part remains behind the scenes), and then everything : welcome to the safe harbor, we have body burning on stream here, we give out freshly cleaned houses to newcomers, do not forget to visit Abigail’s mother. By the way, she’s already gone. The same with Las Vegas. Of all the supporters of Randall Flagg, only Lloyd Henried (Nat Wolff) deserved an adequate backstory, the rest are not paid attention. Pyromancer Trash Can (Ezra Miller) comes to Vegas alone. Such haste and fragmentation, of course, can upset the viewer familiar with the book, but they are unlikely to completely spoil the pleasure of viewing, but beginners will clearly wonder why this is considered one of the main works of Stephen King. And they will be right, if King had written The Stand the way Boone shot it, the book would not have gained much popularity. Although the casting here is in many ways better than in the previous adaptation, except that Ruby Dee in the image of a God-fearing old woman looked much more convincing than Whoopi Goldberg, and Matt Frewer’s Dustbin was more natural, Ezra Miller played some absolutely wild and crazy monkey with a grenade.


Summing up, I want to once again focus on the fact that almost everything that got on the screen is as close as possible to the original source (only Nadine’s storyline change and the stupid denouement in Vegas are frankly striking), and if the memories of the plot of the book are fresh, then there are no special problems with viewing should not occur, memory will help restore all the missing fragments. Of course, it is difficult to guarantee the delight of watching, but still it is not “Haven”, “Mist” and certainly not “Under the Dome”, which is already a small plus. And yes, it’s worth watching the series if only for the sake of the new ending. He never completely satisfied King, and for the last three decades the author has been thinking about how it can be supplemented. It turned out, I must say, perfectly, so if you react painfully to the slightest deviations from the canon, then you can safely skip all series from the third to the eighth and go straight to the ninth. And yes, brace yourself, Boone is already working on the script for The Talisman.

Pros: Cast; new ending written by King Cons: Too many cuts; the characters are not revealed in the best way due to the high dynamics of what is happening. Conclusion:

The miracle did not happen, “The Stand” frankly lacks the allotted timing, but the final episode is a must-see for all fans of the original book

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