When Game of Thrones Leaves The Nest

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Rebecca Kordesh, Director
Twitter | Blog

 

 

A Song of Ice and Fire (ASOIAF) by George R.R. Martin has been around now for over 20 years, and the HBO show adaptation, Game of Thrones, has just completed its sixth season. Both the book series and the show are incredibly popular with a huge, devoted fanbase. As a result, the official forum as well as sites like Reddit have ridiculously active discussions filled with fans who have massive amounts of information about the ASOIAF universe and people who have very strong feelings about them. My participation in such communities has taught me many things, the primary of which is that the fans who utilize these sites tend to be extremely critical of the HBO adaptation.

My pop psychology analysis of this widespread criticism leads me to believe that a lot of negativity comes from fan frustration concerning how long it has taken Martin to write the much anticipated sixth novel of the ASOAIF series, The Winds of Winter. As the years stretch on between the release of A Dance with Dragons and its sequel, everyone waiting for it wants it more and more desperately, and finds themselves increasingly frustrated with the fact that the only new ASOIAF material being released is the television show. I can’t tell you how many people have outright said the only reason they watch the show is because they need something to fill their time while they wait for the books, and while I think this amounts to a very small percentage of show viewers, it seems to be a large percentage of vocal internet critics. Understandably, the thing you turn to for distraction while you wait for the thing you actually want is never really going to meet your needs, so you probably don’t feel overwhelmingly good about it.

Although this post does not discuss specific events, it will be most interesting to people familiar with both the book and TV series, and links may contain spoilers. You have been warned.

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“I looked at the vase,” she said, looking at the vase (voiceovers in adaptations)

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Dorothy McQuaid
Showrunner for Pycera/Social Media for BWP
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Voiceovers in TV and movies are, as Rebecca wrote in her Outlander post on Monday, a great way to transition a first-person story to the screen. I think they are especially relevant in books adapted to movie or TV because people who have read the books know more about the characters than people who only watch the movie or TV show. However, I think some adaptations pull this off better than others: some movies/shows use too many voiceovers, explaining the scenes when they’re already obvious, and some use too few, leaving viewers to wonder what the characters’ motivations are. In today’s post, I’d like to talk about the two ends of the spectrum.

This post will contain spoilers for the book and TV versions of Outlander and book and movie versions of The Hunger Games.

Spoiler-warning

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For the Love of Jamie

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Rebecca Kordesh, Director
Twitter | Blog

“I’ve always known I’ve lived a like different from other men. When I was a lad I saw no path before me, I simply took a step and then another. Ever forward, ever onward, rushing toward someplace I knew not where. And one day I turned around and looked back and saw that each step I’d taken was a choice, to go left, to go right, to go forward or even to not go at all. Every day every man has a choice between right and wrong, between love and hate, and sometimes between life and death and the sum of those choices becomes your life. The day I realized that is the day that I became a man.” -Jamie Fraser (S1E9 “The Reckoning”)

I’m a fan of adaptation. While there have certainly been movies or TV shows adapted from books or plays that have made me deeply regret the time in my life wasted watching them (I’m looking at you, pretty much everything based off anything in the Cassandra Clare universe), I am not the person who walks out of a movie or away from the show saying, “The book was better.”

That’s not to say that the book isn’t often “better,” depending on what you mean by “better.” Books are almost universally more, as a 100,000 word manuscript ought to contain more than a few hour film/show on screen. Books are often able to go deeper and include more scenes and description and explanation as a result, because that is how the medium works. But it seems to me, from both anecdotal evidence and many, many conversation with friends and family about book-to-screen adaptations, that when people say, “The book was better,” what they really mean is, “I really, really loved the book and I was disappointed that the film/TV show was not exactly the same.” Continue reading

Facilis Descensus Averno

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Madeleine Cassier
Producer
Website | Twitter | GoodreadsBookTube

Facilis descensus Averno
“The descent into Hell is easy.” (Vergil, Aeneid VI.124)

The above Vergil epigraph is, of all things, the creed of Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunters — Nephilim warriors who fight demons unbeknownst to mundanes like you or me within her wildly popular series, The Mortal Instruments. It stresses that, essentially, it’s really easy to go down the wrong path, even with the best of intentions. And, oh, has the descent been easy…for their adaptations.

The Mortal Instruments series has had it rough when it comes to adaptation. Back in 2013, they got a movie, something that the studio, I’m sure, hoped would spawn a franchise. As you can guess, it didn’t really work out — mainly because The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones was a poor adaptation (with potential) that ultimately failed due to lazy writing that sought only to cash in upon the success of similar “teen film franchises” such as The Twilight Saga rNxJ8usawDNitPGtRv9ksEhfkeHand The Hunger GamesBut I don’t want to talk about the City of Bones film because, very recently, The Mortal Instruments has gotten a mulligan. They’ve gotten a shot at adaptation redemption.

The newly-rebranded FREEFORM (formerly ABC FAMILY) has just completed airing its first season of Shadowhunters, a television series loosely based upon The Mortal Instruments novels; season 1 drew predominantly from the first novel, City of Bones. Now, as this is a television series as opposed to a feature film, there are far more minutes of material to sift through, and trying to cover all the adaptive aspects of this show would take far too long. So, what I’m going to do is focus in on only two specific adaptive changes — a positive and a negative — that I noticed within the show’s first season because, while I am, admittedly, unlikely to continue further watching the series, Shadowhunters did manage to pull out some adaptive changes that I found interesting, whether or not I think they always succeeded.

Spoiler-warning

SPOILER WARNING: The following post may contain spoilers for certain elements related to The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare as well as Season 1 of Shadowhunters. You have been warned.

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In Defense of “Filmamir”

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Madeleine Cassier
Producer
Website | Twitter | GoodreadsBookTube

If you happened to read my previous post, “In the Shadow of ‘The Ring’,” you know I’m not the biggest fan of Tolkien. And, if you haven’t read that then, well, now you know: Tolkien and I don’t get along. But Peter Jackson and I? We have a much better relationship. Sure, his films can be overlong and easily criticized as “indulgent,” but there’s no denying he did something amazing with his film adaptations of The Lord of the Rings. In a time when fantasy was not selling well onscreen, Jackson undertook what could be lotrtwotowersconsidered one of the biggest and most ambitious film projects in the history of the business, to craft what would ultimately become both a critically and commercially successful fantasy film trilogy. With an overall budget somewhere around $300-million, The Lord of the Rings film trilogy grossed a grand total of almost $3-billion which, when unadjusted for inflation, makes it the bestselling film trilogy of all time. Not only that, the films walked away with a combined 17 Academy Awards; the third film, The Return of the King, currently sits in a 3-way tie with Ben-Hur and Titanic for most awards won for a single film.

But on a more personal note, Jackson made me actually enjoy Tolkien’s trilogy. Shocking, I know. But, as with any adaptation — especially of something perceived as a “classic” — there have been many controversies over the various adaptive changes from books to films within Jackson’s cinematic trilogy. One in particular even garnered its own, ire-filled name amongst purist detractors: “Filmamir.”

“Filmamir” — or, the film version of Faramir — as portrayed by actor David Wenham, represents one of Jackson’s greatest deviations from the source material: a combination of imagination and a need to balance the pacing of the storytelling within the cinematic trilogy. Faramir’s storyline, therefore, especially within the Two Towers film, is largely the invention of Jackson and the three other screenwriters.

And, quite frankly, not only do I like the change, but I think it improves upon the original material.

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One-Winged Trainwreck

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Madeleine Cassier
Producer
Website | Twitter | GoodreadsBookTube

 

“I hope that this project may lead to something, since we woke up something that was sleeping.” (Tetsuo Nomura on Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children)

Full disclosure: I’m not a gamer.

The extent of my electronic gaming can be summed up by The Sims 2, Kingdom Hearts I & II, Assassin’s Creed II, and scattered Gameboy games that were mostly Mario-related. And even then, most of the non-Sims games were being played in conjunction with my younger brother, so I did very little actual playing. In the end, video games are just not my forte and I don’t necessarily enjoy playing them, so I leave it to those who do.

However, I will say that I do often enjoy the stories that are told in games, especially those in the Final Fantasy franchise from Square Enix — specifically, I find the entire urban-fantasy world of Final Fantasy VII incredibly interesting. But I didn’t come about it in the “traditional” sense, i.e. I didn’t, and still haven’t ever actually played the game. I haven’t even played its two major spinoffs, Crisis Core and Dirge of Cerberus. No, I came to Final Fantasy VII through its full-length computer-animated feature adaptation/sequel film, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.

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