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.

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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.

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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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Thou Shalt Not Suffer a Witch

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Madeleine Cassier
Producer
Website | Twitter | GoodreadsBookTube

“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” (Exodus 22:18)

Game of Thrones has now concluded its sixth season in what can only be described as ‘epic’ fashion. And while I would love nothing more than to write a small dissertation on every single scene from the season finale “The Winds of Winter”, I want to, instead, focus upon one specific moment.

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CAVEAT EMPTOR: The following post will contain spoilers for specific incidents in HBO’s series, Game of Thrones, from Seasons 5-6. You have been warned.

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Dat White Savior Complex

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Rebecca Kordesh, Director
Twitter | Blog

I have to admit I’m not always great at identifying the social or cultural issues that exist in the world of Game of Thrones. While I can certainly be sensitive to certain things (like what I consider an absurd amount of unnecessary boobs on the TV show), a lot of the subtle stuff flies by me because I love to immerse myself in the world of the show and not think too hard about it. Generally. There are always exceptions.

But when I was watching Season 6, episode 6 (“Blood of my Blood”), I had a moment where I thought, “Oh my, this is a major white savior complex thing going on here.” That’s why I think it was probably absurdly obvious, because in a really cool and epic moment on the show, all I could think about was how we white people have such an issue figuring out how to do good, culturally sensitive narratives.

And I know, I know, nobody wants me to rain on their parade and make Game of Thrones sound any less awesome than it is, so I’d like to take a moment to say that I love the heck out of the show. I’m very obsessed, and I enjoyed the episode. It is possible to both enjoy something and recognize its issues. But if you don’t like hearing about social issues and Game of Thrones, this is probably not the post for you.

Additionally if you are not caught up on the show and you don’t want spoilers, this is not the post for you. Many spoilers (up until “Blood of my Blood”) appear in this post. You have been warned.

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From Doormat to Dominance

 

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Rebecca Kordesh, Director
Twitter | Blog

One of the coolest things (in my humble opinion) about long-running book series or TV shows is the potential for character growth that they allow. When you’re with people over the course of several books or several seasons of television anything can happen to them and there are myriad opportunities for their characters to develop and grow and change (hopefully in good ways, but people get broken, too). The sign of a good series tends to be this kind of development; after all, nobody likes it when things start to feel stale and predictable.

An especially exciting thing for me, as a female consumer of all things Game of Thrones, has been watching the way the women of Westeros (and beyond) have moved from traditional medieval-type roles into more interesting physical and symbolic spaces over the course of the series. But before I go on, I’m going to insert the obligatory spoiler warning here, because obviously I cannot talk about development without, you know, talking about the things that have happened recently in the world of Game of Thrones.

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SPOILER WARNING: If you are not caught up with at least Episode 5, Season 6 of Game of Thrones and you do not wish to be spoiled, run away. This is not the post for you.

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Blood Will Have Blood

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Madeleine Cassier
Producer
Website | Twitter | GoodreadsBookTube

Sing sorrow, sorrow: but good win out in the end.” (Ag. 139)

Game of Thrones has had its share of what could be called “wrongful” deaths, but there has only been one that struck me particularly hard. It was last year, in Season ; a death by fire so shockingly wrong, that it had me shouting (mostly profanity) at my television, feeling more than a little gutted and nauseous as it reached its agonizing conclusion.

This immolation sequence is one of those pivotal moments in the show that is not present within the original narrative by George R.R. Martin*, and while I was not emotionally prepared for it, it did set off some alarm bells in my head in its similarity to a particularly famous tragic Greek myth: the House of Atreus. And the more I looked at both the House of Atreus and the House Baratheon, the more eerie similarities appeared between the two fictional dynasties, although with some variations.

*Nota bene: I am now aware that Benioff and Weiss were told by George R.R. Martin that this event is to occur, eventually, within the novels, however I began this post before that information was made readily available.

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SPOILER WARNING: The following post will contain spoilers related to plot and character arcs through season 5 of Game of Thrones, as well as The Oresteia by Aeschylus. Read on at your own risk.

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