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Although IT: Chapter One did a wonderful job of capturing the characters and the feel of the book, a lot of the novel's specifics were significantly altered. Now that the story is complete with the release of IT: Chapter Two, we have a more complete picture of how the films match up to the book.
Both the book and the movie jump back and forth between two different time periods nearly three decades apart, but while the book alternates between 1957 and 1985, the films are set in 1989 and 2016. Considering the novel was originally released in 1986, making the '80s timeline feel tangibly recent to its readers, it makes sense that director Andy Muschietti and his team would update the film to feel contemporary to today's audiences.
Although much of Derry and the story of IT exists in what feels like a sort of timeless bubble, making the decade almost irrelevant, the modern-day setting does alter the story in a few minor but effective ways.
Although both the book and the films focus on the same group of characters in two different time periods, the films draw a much firmer line between past and present, with none of the adult versions of the characters even making an appearance in IT: Chapter One. While Chapter Two isn't quite as distinct in its focus and includes a fair number of flashbacks, it's still accurate to say that Chapter One is about the kids and Chapter Two is about the adults. This is very different from King's book, which braids the two time periods together.
Streamlining King's narrative likely worked to the films' benefit, since it may have felt jarring to visually jump between time periods as often as the book does. Splitting the films into a children-centric film and an adult-centric film allowed each one to end with a climactic showdown against Pennywise, even if the kids' victory would prove tragically impermanent. Keep watching the video to see all the ways Stephen King’s It is totally different than the movies!
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Shifting the timeline | 0:17
Parallel narratives | 0:55
Professions and promises | 1:46
Ancient origins | 2:44
Side quests | 4:00
Richie's secret | 4:44
Faces of IT | 5:33
The final stand | 6:47
The Ritual of Chüd | 7:30
The destruction of Derry | 8:21
Gone but not forgotten | 9:13
Stan's letter | 10:09