Posts tagged game of thrones
Posts tagged game of thrones
I watch for the costumes and horses.
And the hot menz.
You know, I find it interesting that Game of Thrones has made a point of depicting the Freys (of both genders, although most specifically the women) as unattractive in the extreme, almost bordering on the stereotypical “inbred hick” you see on TV and in movies.
I went back…
As I mentioned in my previous post on this topic, they were just unwashed and uncombed (and the eldest daughter was much older than Edmure). I actually think most of them were pretty.
It’s interesting how differently I read the show’s intention. I actually though they went with Walder wanting to make as grand an entry for Roslin as possible, so he could savour Edmure’s disappointment for longer and spite Robb more (the look he gave him when Roslin was revealed - “check out my hot daughter, you could have had it all”) - and by contrasting groomed and crisp Roslin with his other - dirty and ragged - (grand)daughters, he made a show of her presentation - and made himself feel clever and even more in control of the situation.
The girls were depicted as rather meek - or at least they acted meekly, being ordered around like cattle -, greasy and in dull colours, but I actually found their depiction to be sympathetic. When some of them look up, you can see the silent defiance in their eyes (or even a little smirk) - and in others, fear and apprehension.
When I watched them, I felt sorry for them, not because they were ugly or stupid or inbred, but because they were flaunted around to stroke their (grand)father’s ego and, ultimately, they were made innocent bystanders to the horrible butchery that ensued.
I would really like to know the showrunners’ reasons for their decision to go with the single wail and “catatonization”
(goddammit that is a horrible word) scenario with Catelyn, instead of the book-compliant face-clawing, shrieking madness (because I am sure they did try filming it that way at one point).
Here’s the thing that makes writing this so difficult: even though it’s an effective episode, it’s not really a great episode, unless one wants to define greatness by the level of shock value and nothing more. There’s nothing bold, as such, in what the show does at the Twins: it’s George R.R. Martin who was bold. But the real genius of the Red Wedding is not the “what”, but the “how”, and in this, Benioff and Weiss seemed to step back rather than attempt to equal or match it. “Blackwater” was a triumph in terms of scale and production value, but it also featured one of the show’s tautest, most well-honed scripts and some inspired performances, things that helped elevate it beyond mere spectacle. “The Rains of Castamere,” on the other hand, does not rise above the shock value—it takes it as its destination and sees no reason to go further.
Those who’ve read the books will surely recall that part of the power of the Red Wedding was the atmosphere and the nagging feeling that something, somewhere, was not quite right. This uneasy feeling is a hallmark of the entire chapter, not just the final pages. Martin builds tension from the opening line (“The drums were pounding, pounding, pounding, and her head with them.”), leaving readers aching for the release—the end of this awful, uncomfortable wedding—and then when the resolution comes, it’s in the cruelest way possible. It bears recalling that Martin isn’t just an award-winning writer of science fiction and fantasy, but also an award-winning horror writer, and it shows within this chapter. What sets apart that final Catelyn chapter from (almost) every other chapter in the series is that Martin seamlessly slips into the horror mode. From start to finish, the chapter is filled with horror tropes: a feeling of growing dread, an uneasy focal character who can’t quite pin down what’s wrong, an environment that feels threatening in some inexplicable way.
It’s not as if Benioff and Weiss tried and failed to capture the mood, the sense of the wedding as being the wedding from hell—an ungracious host, bad food, bad music, too many people in too close a place—and then segueing into the bloodiest wedding imaginable is. Instead, the executive producers/writers eschewed the atmosphere entirely. Where in the novel it’s a plot point that the musicians are terrible, they actively go with the musicians being quite capable (perhaps because drummer Will Champion of Coldplay was among them?), and the gaiety seems quite unforced. Even Catelyn is in good cheer through much of it. Was it a lack of ambition? A belief that going from the extreme of a joyous atmosphere to a orgy of murder is more powerful than mounting dread and uncertainty? A need to simplify and shorten?
There seems to be something hollow in “The Rains of Castamere”, and I believe it comes down to this choice to reconfigure the event into a “Big! Shocking! Moment!” that’s really at fault. What makes one react even more strongly about this failure to really go all out is that from day one, Benioff and Weiss have hinted that this event, the Red Wedding, has been the thing they’ve most wanted to depict on the screen, that if they could take the show far enough to get there, they would be happy. And yet when the moment finally comes, they take the easy way out: they simply hid their hand, as if any premonition from viewers more than a minute or two before the slaughter began would somehow be a failure and ruin the “surprise”. It’s now an “event”, little more. The texture of what the scene could have been, the thing that could elevate it into true greatness rather than an inevitable entry in one of those tedious TV’s 20 Most Shocking Moments-type programs, is gone.
There’s an orgy of violence, yes, there’s a brutality, yes, but all these things are relatively easy to do on the screen if you have the money and the extras for it. The dread and unease that builds throughout—those are harder things to achieve, a matter of establishing atmosphere, of subtly urging viewers into a position of tension. While the Red Wedding of the show was effective as a “shocker”, it simply doesn’t live up to what it might have been, to what Martin put on the page and which readers went through. Those who are blessedly ignorant of the fiction will doubtless be over the moon with paroxysms of shock, and perhaps they (who are the vast majority of viewers, after all) are all that really matters. But it could have been so much more than it was. They aimed low and so, armed with Martin’s masterful storytelling to provide the basic outline, they passed the bar with some ease. But they did not aim high, and at the end that failure in ambition is something I fault them for.
Emblematic of this, in a way, is the fact Catelyn Stark is again given short shrift: though the choice of having her threaten and kill Lady Frey was inspired (thereby skipping the need to introduce and explain Walder Frey’s lackwit grandson Jinglebells), the choice to have her become catatonic on the end lacked the pathos of her fate in the novel. The character has sat silent or ignored so often in this season (Robb’s consultation feels like a sop for those who rued the show’s depiction of Catelyn, but it’s all rather too little, too late) that catatonia simply feels like just another instance of silencing the character. Why avoid the grief-stricken agony, the blood, the madness? Why pull back from a moment fully as gruesome and horrifying as all the bloodshed that came before? There’s a reason that Catelyn’s final chapter was the last one Martin wrote… and we’re fairly certain it had a great deal more to do with what Martin was about to do to one of his POV characters than to Robb and his battle companions. For those who hoped that at last the show might really given Catelyn Stark her due as one of the central characters—not necessarily in terms of plot, but certainly in terms of themes and setting of tone—we have to think there’ll be some disappointment.
But so it goes, on Game of Thrones. They have shepherded another season almost to its close, and if it is sometimes a shadow of the material on which it is based, at least it’s an effective shadow, able to get the job done (usually) thanks to its grand production ambitions and less-than-grand artistic ambitions.
I like this season of Game of Thrones, as I did the previous two. I like the books better, of course, but I try and enjoy them separately - the only way I can enjoy them, really, for comparing them and expecting the show to live up to and reflect the depth and complexity of the books would only result in bitter disappointment, as it did for many (if not most) book readers. So, instead of focusing on the things the show did wrong or could have made better, I will point out the things I liked, or at least some of them (like more horses this episode, yay!).
Poor Frey girls. Poor Joyeuse. It seems like Walder Frey deliberately presented them as greasy and grimy and homely, and accentuated the contrast between them and Roslin - even more so than in the books. I actually love the way their individuality seem to get through their forceful submissive pose - the way some of them look up with subtle defiance.
I loved the dresses of some of them - namely Freya (was that her name?) and Merry (and Joyeuse). (Sorry if that seems weird - it’s just what I notice and make screenshots of the most.) Here, I made a screenshot of them:
I’m actually OK with their decision to replace Jinglebell with Joyeuse.
Game of Thrones, s03e08 - Second Sons
They have made me a Lannister.
He is as frightened as I am, Sansa realized. Perhaps that should have made her feel more kindly toward him, but it did not. All she felt was pity, and pity was death to desire. He was looking at her, waiting for her to say something, but all her words had withered. She could only stand there trembling.
-Storm of Swords, Sansa III
Her hands trembled as she began fumbling at her clothes. She had ten thumbs instead of fingers, and all of them were broken.
- A Storm of Swords, Sansa III