At one point last Friday night, while at a bar downtown, a friend of mine turned to me and said, “Have you seen Game of Thrones?” His question had a lot of enthusiasm behind it, and I laughed inwardly because I was immediately reminded of something I had seen earlier that day, which was this:
Now, I of course didn’t yell at my friend like the bearded fellow in the video. I just explained to him that I had read the books long before the tv show came out and I didn’t want to ruin, by watching a filmed version, my self-imagined images of the characters and settings in the book.
A couple days later I found myself thinking about that idea again. Does watching a dramatized version of one of your favorite books really kill the images you’ve created in your head? When I tried to pull up images of the characters from the book series I discovered that I don’t really have any clear images of any of them. Instead, what I have, are vague notions and blank faces. I can picture the places quite well but the characters remain illusive and ghost-like; lacking detail and shadow. Take for example the character of Jon Snow. He is a major character in the books and yet all I could say of him appearance-wise is that he’s a fair-haired, somewhat handsome teenager who looks older than his actual age. Very generic. Even a character with a very distinct look like the dwarf Tyrion, who is described with a lot of detail by Mr Martin, does not hold a strong image for me. The best I can come up with is a very cartoonish-looking short man with straw for hair and a pot belly; and even that image is influenced by a childhood memory of some old cartoon movie the title of which has long since departed my mind. Unable to escape the promos for HBO’s Game of Thrones, I have seen the live-action Tyrion and although I think he is a little too good looking a dwarf to be playing the disgustingly ugly Tyrion I have to admit that he was probably very well cast.
What, then, is the problem? Why am I so reluctant to watch the tv series? I have no reason to think that watching the show will impact my life in a negative way. I mean, why would it?
Back when I was in university, the film adaptations of The Lord of the Rings came out. Previous to them coming out, I had read the three-book novel 3 times. It was and still is probably my favorite book. I remember at that time that I felt exactly how I feel now. I very much wanted to watch the films but was afraid they would disappoint me and ruin the images I had gleaned from Tolkien’s words. And then a friend of mine scored tickets to the midnight opening of the first film and gave me one. I thought to hell with it and gladly went to the theater. I liked the movie. I wasn’t impressed with the portrayal of the main characters and various casting choices but the masterfully done CGI and the amazing natural scenery of New Zealand, which matches the landscapes of the book so well, trumped the negatives. Those movies were obviously made by people who cared A LOT about the novel and didn’t want to mess things up. Turned out that watching the movies didn’t kill my perception of the books after all, nor did seeing the characters on the big screen replace my own mind-made images of the characters and the settings.
So, why this hesitation again? If the television series is good enough for the author of the books, then surely it should be good enough for me. He actually works on the show for chrissakes. I suppose I’m just being a book snob. But, I think that by writing this post, I have convinced myself to give the tv version a go.
Imagination, be damned.