Some Views on Adaptation

I’m Going to write about a TV show I don’t watch. In particular, I’m going to write about Game of Thrones. Why? Because I feel that I can get something out of it in terms of writing if I look deeper.

I don’t need to tell you how big a deal Game of Thrones is. It’s THE biggest show of this decade, if not this generation. Even as somebody who doesn’t watch this show, I can see how loved it is and how the stereotypical idea of “shut up the talk about it because I haven’t seen the latest episode” can actually be true here. However, I don’t watch this show because I’m not really that big of a fan of the fantasy genre. I just missed that boat when Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy were the biggest things on the planet seemingly simultaneously, so when I heard of Game of Thrones, I thought nothing of it. Another thing I have no interest in is the book series Game of Thrones is based on, A Song of Ice and Fire. The only interest I’ve had in this franchise has gone as far as to look up its author George R. R. Martin and his writing process, and I can say that he’s a pretty interesting guy.

The thing that’s interesting about Game of Thrones to me is how it’s been adapting A Song of Ice and Fire. As of the time you read this, Game of Thrones has finished seven seasons and is preparing to air its final season. Meanwhile, the last two books in the Ice and Fire series haven’t been published and are nowhere close to being ready for the hype train that comes with a release date. From what I’ve heard, Game of Thrones knows the ending of the saga, so if you read the books, the show’s got you covered…and it’ll spoil the ending.

That’s kind of interesting to me.

Take the Harry Potter series, a phenomenon I can say I lived through, or at least a good chunk of it. Four books had already been published before the first film came out in 2001. This may not seem like much when you see that Game of Thrones premiered in 2011, and the fifth book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series was released that very same year. I will say that the deviation comes from the medium and the pacing for both of these.

Harry Potter has each of the installments in one movie (or movies in the case of Deathly Hallows), while Game of Thrones had to deal with the fact that the series they were adapting was both incomplete and had a lot of plotlines and intricacies going on. The interesting thing is that George R.R. Martin would only have a channel like HBO tackle his series because he didn’t want things like budget or censorship compromising his vision, which is what led him to write his Song of Ice and Fire series in the first place. Meanwhile, Harry Potter isn’t aimed at adults, so it doesn’t have that burden. Also, the story of Harry Potter could be told more easily, so when the final book came out in 2007, the fifth book Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was in theaters and it was pretty smooth sailing from that point.

I think the thing I get from this is this: Pacing can be a bitch. How you pace can be a bitch. The fact that you hear so much about book and adaptation can speak volumes. Game of Thrones chose to adapt pretty much everything George R.R. Martin put on the page, and now that they’re out of adapting material, they’re on their own save an outline and the final plot points of the saga and fate of the characters. Harry Potter had their plot all done for the most part, and they could just crank out the movies to an adoring public in what you could call a simpler time for the Internet.

As you can see, the way of adapting a book series can be kind of baffling. It can also be a daunting task. And if I ever get in this world, I hope to be the one whose work is being adapted instead of the one who has the task of adapting.

 

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