Diversion and Distraction of the Epic Kind: A Game of Thrones on HBO
Ok, I couldn’t possibly let something this awesome go by without saying something about it. A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin is one of the greatest epic stories of all time. You will notice I didn’t say fantasy epics. It is, indeed, fantasy, yet I have no reservations placing it against any epic, fantasy or otherwise.
Plus, how cool is this opening?
The HBO series has been a long time coming (though not as long as some of the books have been coming). From seeing the first episode I think it is way too early to tell it they have really captured the depth and spirit of the book A Game of Thrones but the potential is certainly there. To do it justice they will definitely need to get a few things right.
They will need to get the feel:
Martin’s world is dirty, violent and brutally unforgiving of weakness. The series seems to be off to a good start in this regard. Nobody gets a free pass in this world. Being a “Hero” means a very nasty death is probably right around the corner. Being a villain means somebody even worse is likely to soon appear. The land is equally as harsh and pitiless. For example, audience members who haven’t read the books need to understand the import of a continent spanning Wall of ice. It is there for a reason. It was built, at great effort and expense, to protect against something. What could possibly be so terrible to require such a barrier be built? Even if the characters never ask these questions, the audience should look at the Wall and absorb a feeling of dread and apprehension. You can create almost anything in CGI these days but CGI alone can’t truly convey the sheer harshness of the environment of a land where winter may last for a generation or more. That has to come from the writing and acting as well as the settings.
There are several characters that have to be right:
This is what you really can’t see by the first episode alone. The most major characters have hardly been introduced, if at all. Arya Stark is there but she says little. Sandor Clegane has one throw-away line and has yet to be formally introduced. Tyrion and Jamie Lannister have a great deal of encouraging screen time. Jon Snow is still much of a mystery as is Daenerys Targaryen even though they are probably the axis on which the series will eventually revolve (at least that is my thinking though, of course, the series has yet to be finished).
Without quality acting from these characters the series won’t fly. It is very cool that on the strength of the first episode alone, the series has been renewed for the second season / second book A Clash of Kings (I wonder if they will change the name of the series with as each season is intended to cover the events of a single book). It makes me even more eager to get my hands on A Dance with Dragons, the newest book in the series that will hit bookstore shelves shortly after the end of the A Game of Thrones season.
I’ll need to start my re-read soon.