Tuesday 27 July 2010

A few words on HBO's Game of Thrones adaptation

I tweeted this recently, but thought it was worth repeating here: I think HBO have done a stonking job casting this series.

It's great to see that they've not been afraid to cast unknown actors and actresses who have little to no experience of acting for TV or film. But more importantly, it's hugely encouraging to see how much effort they've put into casting the dozens of roles (I'd forgotten how big a story this is, and how many characters it involves, until I read the news of all the castings).

Wert (yep, him again) has done some great posts on the recent castings: here, here, here and here. In terms of looks, most of these actors/actresses look spot on. Only castings I'm not convinced by are Jerome Flynn as Bronn (he could certainly pass for the sellsword, but can he pull off the dark wit?) and Gethin Anthony as Renly Baratheon (he looks a bit young, though it might be an old photo). But otherwise the casting is excellent - James Cosmo as Jeor 'The Old Bear' Mormont and Aiden Gillen as Littlefinger are particularly good examples.

Such has been the excitement since the project was first revealed, even the mainstream is sitting up and taking notice: there's a piece on The Guardian website about the series:
"With feelings so high there is a danger that the show will be unable to live up to the hype. But all the signs so far are positive. It's being made by the same team that made Rome – so the BBC has a stake in the show. It's being shot mostly in Northern Ireland and the cast – including the aforementioned Bean and Lena Headey – looks great. Much fan excitement surrounded the "perfect" casting of Aidan Gillen from Queer as Folk and the Wire as machiavellian puppet master Littlefinger. (Yes, that is the second character I've described as machiavellian – it's that kind of story.) Buffy writer Jane Espenson is part of the writing team, as is Martin himself. It seems that the adaptation is going to be solid and faithful to the text – no wily re-imagining. With source material this good, that's no bad thing."
While it's cool to see the coverage the series is getting, I have to take issue with a couple of things in the article.

"For the uninitiated – that is, people who don't gleefully buy 600-page books from the nerd section of Waterstone's – A Game of Thrones is the first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series."
Ah, mainstream coverage of something related to the genre wouldn't be complete without the usual snipe. Seriously, what's the point? The whole "nerd section" nonsense could have been left out of that; it's totally irrelevant. Still, we've come to expect this sort of snobbishness from the mainstream.

"A Game of Thrones is high fantasy; although with a lot more swords than sorcery. It's a world of prophecies, exiled princesses, talking crows and magical trees."
Sheesh, what a crap way of describing the series - talk about making it sound like something it's not. High fantasy? No, not really. A Song of Ice and Fire is a series in which the primary focus is on the feuding of several different families - with the focus very much on the characters; it's been described as the War of the Roses with dragons, and that's not a bad description. Certainly, the elements mentioned above are minor elements. The 'magic trees' description particularly pisses me off, as it's not really accurate. All things considered, Martin's world is relatively low-magic, so to definite it as above doesn't do it justice.

Ho hum...

Anyway, for all the latest news on the production, check out the excellent blog Winter is Coming


Westeros said...

The thing about it is that it seems to me she's a fan of the series and is looking forward to the TV show -- but the mode of discourse regarding SF/F in the British press is so absurdly awful that she has to give it the back of her hand at a couple of points.

It's bad in the U.S., with critics denigrating it ... but it's so bloody self-effacing in the U.K.!

Brenda said...

Wow, that is a horrible description of the book. If I read that description only, and was told to guess what book it was, I'd never guess A Game of Thrones. Ever.

James said...

Westeros - that's the curious thing; she clearly seems to like the books, but it's as if she feels she has to backhand it a couple of times. Peer pressure...

Brenda - exactly, it's disappointing. I wonder how many people read that description and thought "FFS, not more talking trees - this clearly isn't for me."