Monday, April 18, 2011

[TV] Game of Thrones on HBO

Last night was the premier of HBO's Game of Thrones, a series based on the eponymous novel by George R. R. Martin - the first in his series A Song of Ice and Fire. I've been looking forward to seeing it for some time, to the point that I actually subscribed to HBO just to watch it. I've never done that for any other HBO or pay-cable TV series - not The Sopranos, not Rome, not Spartacus: Blood and Sand, none of them. But I did it for this.

Martin's series is an amazing piece of work, and living up to it required an incredible effort. Exceeding all expectations doesn't come easy, but I'll be damned if Game of Thrones didn't do exactly that. I can't think offhand of any piece of television that I enjoyed more or found to be more visually and technically impressive. A truly amazing piece of work. HBO can quote me on that, if they're so inclined (hey, a man can dream).

There were, of course, concessions to time and the medium. Not every shade and nuance of a novel can ever bed translated perfectly to the screen. Things were cut or added or changed, but never in a way that made you wonder, "was that really necessary?" We see Tyrion, the dwarf brother of the queen, cavorting in a whorehouse. That wasn't in the novel, but establishing his character is critical - he's one of the most important characters in the series, after all. In true "show, don't tell" fashion, we get to see exactly how this little man lives his life, so we can understand him clearly later on. I can live with that.

But the look of the thing! That's the real magic here. TV is a visual medium, and the key to the success of Game of Thrones was that everything looked so incredible. It's so difficult for anything to compete with the vision a reader gets in their imagination when reading a novel, yet somehow Game of Thrones managed to deliver the characters, costumes, locations, and sets in a way that it was easy to believe I was really looking inside the walls of Winterfell.

Game of Thrones has managed to capture the feel of the novel as well. I felt the "starkness" of the North and its ruling family, the Starks. I felt the cold emptiness of the Haunted Forest beyond The Wall. I felt the barbarism, the animal spirit of the Dothraki khalassar and their Khal, Drogo. Most of all, I recognized every minute of the film. It was a faithful, honest, meticulous adaptation that brought the novel to life, artfully sidestepping the pitfalls that are so prevalent in any attempt to translate a brilliant book to the screen.

Bravo to HBO for producing this. It surely couldn't have been done anywhere else. It's too graphic for basic cable, to epic for the big screen. Only HBO had the wherewithal to bring A Song of Ice and Fire to life. I'm thrilled beyond reason that they not only did so, but did so in a grand, majestic, impressive way. Now I just have to suffer through each subsequent week between episodes. The next couple of months are going to be rivers of pain interspersed with hours of gladness and joy. I cannot wait. Winter is coming!

No comments:

Post a Comment