Sunday, March 31, 2013

Game of Thrones - A Feast for the Eyes


It is the early  90' s.  A successful but still not very well known journalist and writer of TV screenplays, horror and science fiction stories, with the name  George R.R. Martin,  decides to return to his first love:  novel writing.

Inspired by  stories  from the War of the Roses, heroes like Ivanhoe and the  writings of J. R. R. Tolkien, he begins to write a series of fantasy epic books, under the general title 'A Song of Ice and Fire'

In 1996 the first volume of the series, with the title 'A Game of Thrones',   is published.

However  real success comes with the fourth book, 'A Feast for Crows' -in 2005, taking not only the first place in the best sellers list of the New York Times but also several nominations for awards and the long awaited commercial and artistic recognition of its author.

On January 2007 and after having already bought the rights for the television adaptation of the books' series, the executives of the American television channel HBO, recruited the young and talented writers and producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, entrusting them to create a television adaptation of something like TV's 'Lord of the Rings' or in the words of   Benioff

'the Sopranos in Middle Earth' (!)

The story -of season 1- in a nutshell: 
When the 'Hand of the King' Robert Baratheon -something like the Prime Minister-  of  the 7 kingdoms of Westeros, dies under mysterious circumstances, the King travels to Winterfell and to his old friend and brother in arms and now Lord of the North,  Eddard Stark, with the request that he becomes the  new 'Hand'.  
Lord Stark reluctantly agrees to serve his King and so he travels to the capital King's Landing, where he comes face to face with the intrigues and machinations of the Court and the King's wife, Cersei of the House of Lannister, who has her  own plans for the future of the throne.

At the same time in the eastern free areas, the  two remaining descendants of the former King of Westeros, Aerys II Targaryen, plan the wedding of Daenerys Targaryen  to  the  Lord of  the nomadic and barbaric tribe of Dothraki,  Khal Drogo, in order to cross the narrow sea and lead his fearsome warriors to Westeros,  so they can  reclaim the throne.

While   the conflicts of  the 7 Lords of Westeros escalate and the kingdoms prepare for war, on  the northern border of the territory, the keepers of the avowed battalion of the Night's Watch,  guards of the colossal ice wall that protects the kingdom from the terrible evil that lurks in the unexplored region outside, discover that their mythical enemies may have awaken.
                     And Winter is Coming

Labyrinthine plot, mythical monsters, dream cities, scheming advisors, barbaric warlords, immoral noblemen, brave knights, unworthy successors, unexpected heroes, impressive witches, exciting twists, jousts, fights and fencing lessons, unique geography and unusual climatic events along with strong doses of sex, violence and other unscrupulous and R-rated  scenes, set  the tone for  this unusual but fun mural of a fictional medieval kingdom of an  alternative Middle Earth, where the seasons can last for years and myths might come in the  form of the Walking Dead.

The creators of the series, serving the spirit of the R.R. Martin books, with the help of the multi-million budget, offer a comprehensive, realistic and imposing illustration of the Kingdom of Westeros and its surrounding areas.

The production design of the series,  the detailed costumes and  the majestic breathtaking sceneries -computer generated  or not, serve the plot and promote the  storytelling while at the same time leave space and time to explore the numerous characters and enjoy the interpretation of a great assembly of  actors.

Sean Bean in the role of  Lord Stark, is accustomed to wearing an armor, since he has been  Boromir in the 'Fellowship of the Ring', the satanic and commanding Lena Headey, who stopped chasing Terminators, as Sarah Connor in  the homonymous television series, as Queen Cersei, manages to wipe out entire Royal Houses, the impressive and ferocious Jason Momoa (Conan the barbarian) as Khal the ... barbarian who falls for the -not so- fragile princess of the House of  Dragons.

Not forgetting to mention the amazing likeness of Prince Jaime Lannister, Queen Cersei's  twin brother, to ...  Prince Charming  in "Shrek 2"  !

The one who definitely steals the show and is probably the only non-Stark we really like, is Peter Dinklage, in the role, of pleasure-seeking, witty, cynical and full of surprises, Tyrion Lannister.

Dinklage was  singled out and fairly awarded  for this role with a Golden Globe and an Emmy.

Special mention to the atmospheric soundtrack of the series written by Ramin Djawadi.

The German-Indian composer of films like 'Iron Man', 'Clash of the Titans' and 'Pacific Rim' and TV shows like 'Prison Break', 'Person of Interest' and 'Westworld', manifests his fondness for the classic romantics like Brahms and Tchaikovsky but is also influenced by the epic music of Elmer Bernstein.

Djawadi accompanies each character and every storyline uniquely, whether it's the rich dark sound of the cellos of the opening titles, the melodic filled with drums minimalist theme of Daenerys or the Lannister theme, introduced in season 2 with the 'The Rains of Castamere' song, playing each instrument on the keyboard himself.

The composer excelled by writing a 10 minute long all-new musical theme entitled 'Light of the Seven' for the explosive season 6 finale -the wildfire sequence.
You can read his interview with the Hollywood Reporter HERE

On April 24th,  the 6th  - first spoiler free- season premiered on HBO.
Based on George R.R. Martin's  unpublished -sixth- book 'The Winds of Winter' but with enough material from the previous two books 'A Feast for Crows' and 'A Dance with Dragons' which follow different characters and plots.

According to Benioff  
'This season was a beast to make'. 

Not only did production values rose high, the GOT showrunners had also to carry the story forward from the end point of the final book. According to Weiss: 'That was both very exciting and a bit terrifying at times'.

The series culminated on episode 9 with the epic and -perhaps best filmed cinematic battle in history- the 'Battle of the Bastards' staged by director Miguel Sapochnik, also responsible for  season's 5 'Hardhome' and season's 6 finale.

Sapochnik rightfully won an Emmy for best director in a dramatic  series. 

As we wait in excitement for the ultimate season to begin let's have a look at GamesRadar's season 7 recap.

Questions about what will be the fate of Jon Snow or what will happen to Daenerys after her glorious return to Westeros,  will be answered, after the end of season 8, which premieres April 14 on HBO.

Until then, worldwide audiences and GOT enthusiasts  will have to wait for only 6 more mega-episodes to air, to witness who will be the last man, woman or beast to sit on the Iron Throne.

You can find the greek version of my review HERE

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