Culture Clash: Game of Thrones

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The TV Show
Kirsty Lee

It is becoming a frequent occurrence that some of  our literary best sellers are cashing in on their popularity and allowing  for their novels to be adapted to fit the screen- whether this is the  television screen or the silver screen depends on the individual book(s).  This is the case for the highly acclaimed and much loved television  show, Game of Thrones. The concept is taken from A Song of Fire and Ice, the seven-book saga written by George R. R. Martin.

The books total  an outstanding 5232 pages which when compared to other fantasy epics  like Lord Of The Rings, which totals 2064 pages including The Hobbit, this is staggering and a little daunting  for many of us. I found reading the Lord Of The Rings a challenge, let  alone thinking about reading something double the size of that! I can  see why many people prefer watching the television show rather than  reading the books. After all, latest figures for the third episode of  the third season show over 5.8 million people tuning in across two time zones.

I praise the television show over the books for a  number of reasons, the first being that the scenes are visually rich  and go way beyond what you could of imagined in some cases. Sometimes  when you are reading a novel, it is difficult to actually picture what  the author wants you to, but on the television, several people have  collaborated to bring you exactly what it is the author was describing.   By making the scenery come to life, it helps to bring the whole story  alive, you get more of a visual understanding of the setting. Another  point to raise is when you are simply reading a novel, the dialogue  can become a little lost, especially when the conversations and plots are incredibly complex like they are in Martins’ books.Yet an actor is able to fully engage with the words and can show emotion when delivering the lines  to help put life into the story. Sure, the characters may not look like how you imagined  them in the books but through exquisite casting, the actors that were hired to play the part somehow seem to  fit perfectly.Some people will be disappointed, but if you think the  characters won’t be portrayed to your satisfaction, then maybe watching  the television adaptation isn’t the best thing for you.

What I like best about this programme is the multi-strand  narrative that allows the audience to dive in and out of different story  lines. I find that this montage style of narrative works extremely well on television,  especially in regards to keeping the audience engaged and on their toes.  What is the most exciting is knowing that somewhere along the lines  these storylines will collide. I think that when this technique is employed  in a book, it can sometimes become tedious and you can loose where you  are up to with certain characters. With television there is the ability  to flick between all the relevant storylines with the ease of an edit,  without having to wait chapters and chapters. Of course there will always be discrepancies from  the book to the screen, but that is why it is marketed as an adaptation  of the book, and not the actual book itself. There are only so many  things that television can do technically and if there is not the technology  to create some scenes, then they will be taken out in favour of those  that can work. It is also incredibly hard to break down over 5000 words  into hour-long segments and so some parts maybe left out.The important  thing to remember for a television adaptation, is that all the interesting  and action packed parts of the book need to be aired and in this case  they will be aired in favour of lengthy panoramic views over Westeros.

After all, the reason we watch programmes like this is  for the action. Game of Thrones has been commissioned for a fourth series and as the  third season is well under way, I can safely say that I am very excited  for the things to come. If you haven’t seen the programme before,  I seriously recommend that you watch it, especially if  you consider yourself to be a fan of fantasy.

 

The Books
Rachel Quin

The most recent HBO hit TV series is back again, with promises of  a winter that will eventually come – although us English might  say it never actually left. However, Game of Thrones is more than just  a kickass TV series; it’s also a series of rather interesting books  by George R.R. Martin. I’ve written before for SCAN about the superiority of books over films, and although the TV series is astounding and I follow it religiously, the best way to experience it is the way it was intended – in paperback or on an e-Reader of your choosing.

 

The series are known as ‘A Song Of Ice And Fire’ and currently comprise of five written and published books, with two yet to be finished.  As much as I love the books, it takes some serious dedication to plough  through each of Martin’s epic sagas and although some might complain  about the books being too long, I guess it’s all a matter of how much  and often you read. For those of us that really enjoy a good book, it’s  less of a challenge and more of a pleasure to sit down with a wedge  of bound paper and dive into a fantasy world; rather than plonking down  in front of the television and allowing our eyes to go square. The only  time I ever consider reading a chore is when it’s for a seminar. And  even though the TV show is drawing in an impressive 5.8 million, the  books have sold around 15 million worldwide to date; demonstrating the  impact and popularity of Martin’s written word.

The great thing about the books is the minute attention to detail  and the vivid characters. Credit where it’s due, the casting for the  show has been absolutely sensational, and I’m yet to be disappointed  with any of the choices for the characters. But for those of us with  a vibrant imagination, you don’t need a television to picture the  people and places. Further to this, the multi-narrative approach of  the books give you a greater scope of the characters and their lives. On the  negative side, there is so much detail that the books can become tedious  at times. However, unfortunately, despite HBO’s best interests, the  show can be just as tedious. At times I find myself zoning out, and  some episodes it feels like nothing at all is happening. Season two,  compared to Daenerys’ dragon finale in season one; actually felt like  a bit of an anti-climax, and I wasn’t entirely sure what progress  was made after ten lengthy episodes.

With adaptations, my pet hate is this pointless desire to Hollywood-ise  absolutely everything. Whilst I admit most of the TV series remains  true to the books, there are still some ridiculous changes. Tyrion Lannister  for example, according to the books, loses his nose and has his face  completely mangled during the battle of Blackwater Bay. Consequently,  this repulses everybody around him and has profound effects on his personality  and character, as he feels a desire to live up to his monsterous appearance.  On the show, he takes a crack to the head like a champ and is back to  normal within a couple of episodes. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of  gore, but it feels like a daft change to make just to appeal to the  audience, who might recoil at a less than perfect face.  Further to this, there have been suggestions that the producers have  decided that if Martin fails to produce the final two books before the  TV series catches up, they have the artistic licence to do whatever  they want. As far as I’m concerned, although the series makes it clear  that they are simply an ‘adaptation’ of Martin’s books, deciding  to do whatever the hell you want with the plotline just because the  author is taking his sweet time to write the books is ridiculous. You  cannot rush a masterpiece – patience is a virtue my friends.

Overall, I would recommend reading the books as a way of wrapping  your head around all the characters and really being able to grasp what’s  going on. Admittedly, I was introduced to A Song Of Ice And Fire by  watching the TV series, and I found myself so intrigued (and so impatient  for season two), that I immediately bought the books to find out more.  They are a fantastic way of getting well-acquainted with the families  of Westeros, and a lifeline for those of us who simply cannot afford  to hang around for a year waiting for HBO to release the next season.

 

 

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