Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Fantasy on film

Discovering that A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin (book 1 of A Song of Ice and Fire) is to be made into a TV mini-series has got me thinking about film and TV adaptations of fantasy novels. It has to be acknowledged there aren't too many of them around, and most such movies made prior to Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings were typically dismal; but Peter Jackson (and also James Cameron with Avatar) has done the genre a huge favour. Not only do film-makers now believe that it's possible to make quality grand epic dramas set in another world, they know they have the audience to appreciate it.

Now, A Game of Thrones is being made for TV, rather than cinema, and it's to be expected that the budget will reflect this. But I think targeting the TV medium could be viewed as a positive. For one thing, there should be less constraint on screen time, and one assumes/hopes this will translate to greater content retained within the story. Of course it will be tricky to bring an 800 page novel to life without losing slabs of the plot, but at least it won't be restricted to cinema-like frugality and plot 'adjustments' that leave fans scratching their heads.

I haven't actually read this book in entirety; I have been meaning to pick it up again for ages, although I suspect I'll enjoy the TV show more if I wait to read the book until after it's aired. But there are heaps of other most-loved fantasy series that I would love to see dramatised. I remember a favourite travelling passtime back in the 1990s was to 'cast' Stephen Donaldson's Mordant's Need duology. Oh, the debates we had over who should play Geraden!

I guess the challenge with A Game of Thrones -- and indeed most fantasy sagas -- is the sheer number of books and scale of events that need to be dramatised in order to cover the entire story. In the end it's a huge commitment, and I sure hope they go the distance with A Song of Ice and Fire. And let's also hope this marks the beginning of more fantasy on the screen - silver or small.

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