Stephen King’s screenplay “Storm of the Century” was my 71st and final book by the master of the macabre. It’s a bittersweet feeling, but with a few short stories remaining and “Elevation” coming late October, I’m not done yet! Anyway, check out my review for “Storm of the Century.”
Released in 1999, Stephen King wrote the “Storm of the Century” screenplay for a television movie. The film was released in three parts, totaling over four hours of air time. The book was interesting for sure, but I felt like the screenplay style hindered what it could have been. The film was exactly as you’d expect after reading the book.
The residents of Little Tall Island off the coast of Maine (of course) are battening down the hatches and preparing for what the news is referring to as the storm of the century (go figure). While this is happening, a mysterious man shows up and kills an innocent old woman.
Side note: You may recognize Little Tall Island. It was the setting for “Dolores Claiborne” and the short story “Home Delivery.” Dolores is mentioned a couple times by the residents in “Storm of the Century.”
Anyway, this mysterious man is Andre Linoge. He ends up being like a lame version of everyone’s favorite King baddy: Randall Flagg. Linoge gets himself arrested by island constable, and the main character of the story, Mike Anderson.
Anderson is in charge of keeping the citizens calm and making sure everyone is safe during this storm, but now he must also deal with a murderous stranger. The storm escalates to its title and all the residents of Little Tall Island end up taking refuge in the town hall building. Meanwhile Mike and a few others stand guard outside of the island’s one cell where Linoge is being held.
From his cell, Linoge uses some sort of psychic abilities and sorcery to cause chaos. I wont go much further into details to avoid spoilers, but some of the events Linoge causes are quite intense, especially the ultimatum at the end.
“This is a cash-and-carry world, pay as you go. Sometimes you only have to pay a little, but mostly it’s a lot. And once in a while it’s all you have. ” – Mike Anderson
This review is shorter because the book itself wasn’t long. The screenplay, coming in at 376 pages, is hard to go over without spoiling and it read much faster than that page count suggests. You can watch the movie and honestly probably enjoy it more. Like I said before, this story isn’t bad, and the end is even a little heartbreaking, but I would have liked it much more if it were in novel form.
Overall, “Storm of the Century” wasn’t bad, but it definitely wasn’t King’s best work.
The film was very good. There were some major differences from the novel, but nothing that took away from the overall story.
Kathy bates was a PERFECT Dolores Claiborne. I love Kathy in everything she does, and both King adaptations I’ve seen her in, she has absolutely nailed. Jennifer Jason Leigh played adult Selena and she did a great job too.
Overall the movie was good and gives readers a nice visual for the novel. I’d recommend checking it out. (After you read the book though!)
Back to the novel:
“Dolores Claiborne” is written like a testimony. Dolores Claiborne’s testimony to prove her innocence. The first 301 pages are written in what almost feels like one breath. No chapters and no real pauses or stopping points. Its Dolores talking, and members of the Little Tall Police Department listening and recording.
The last four pages are clippings from newspapers describing events as an epilogue to Dolores’s story.
The narration may seem weird or almost boring, and it did take me a few pages to get into it, but I quickly came to appreciate it. I mean REALLY appreciate it. King was able to write his usual vivid descriptions and amazing characters but all through Dolores.
The testimony is split into thirds. The first third is about Dolores’s time taking care of Vera, who at this point is an old woman that frequently soils herself and has horrible nightmares and visions of dust bunnies preparing to attack her.
The second third is about Dolores’s life with her abusive, selfish, drunk husband Joe St. George. In this section of the testimony, Dolores confesses and describes how she killed him.
Dolores Claiborne is a certified badass.
She grew up fighting and working hard for everything. She married Joe straight out of high school and had three children with him. After marriage she learned Joe wasn’t the pretty-boy she had thought.
One night, Joe hit Dolores across the back extra hard and she decided she’d had enough of that and broke a creamer jar over his head… Joe never hit her again.
The hitting stopped, but Joe began to manipulate their daughter Selena and started to force himself on her. Dolores finally saw the signs just before it was too late and again stood up to Joe and got him to stop.
Joe went behind Dolores’s back and took the money from the college accounts of all three children and transferred it to an account in his name only. Dolores learned of his thievery and decided she’d had enough of Joe St. George… period.
“Sometimes, an accident can be an unhappy woman’s best friend.” – Vera Donovan
She plotted to kill him and kill him she did. Her plan occurred and succeeded on July 20th, 1963, the night of the full solar eclipse. The same eclipse another King character experiences on her father’s lap in the 1991 novel “Gerald’s Game.”
Dolores has visions of this character, this little girl named Jessie, during the eclipse. King masterfully and very subtly ties in the two novels together through overlapping themes and the eclipse.
After the death of Joe, Dolores is freed, but she loses the love and trust of her daughter.
In the last third of the novel, Dolores tells the story of the day Vera died and how she was pegged as a murderer even though she was innocent. The similarities between Vera and Dolores and the secrets each has lived with add some nice little twists during the novel’s conclusion.
The novel was short and easy to read but beautiful. Like I said earlier, Dolores Claiborne is a certified badass. King knows how to write strong female characters and showed it here.
I actually really enjoyed the testimonial narration and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this novel. I highly recommend you check it out.
“In the end, it’s the bitches of the world who abide… and as for the dust bunnies: frig ya!” – Dolores Claiborne.