When is the last time you watch Season 1 through misty eyes?
It’s not that they are gone, it’s that they were great. Over the course of this week, yours truly dove back into HBO’s adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. It’s time, after all, for the Storm of Spoilers crew (of which I am one-third) to begin our #reThrones project, in which we rewatch and reread our way back through the six seasons of Game of Thrones before the seventh season debuts in July.
What I did expect was to find so many beloved characters, many long dead, alive and well and telling each other that they’d see each other again. What I did not expect was how much I genuinely miss these actors, their performances, and the very different show of which they were apart in the beginning.
As you can hear in the discussion we had on Storm of Spoilers, there’s something striking about that first season of Thrones: it’s almost perfect. The way Dan Weiss, David Benioff, and their motley crew of producers, craftspeople, and future blockbuster directors set about making “The Sopranos in Middle Earth” is magnificent.
We take for granted how much of Thrones was built on a foundation of walk-and-talks, political drama, scheming, and well-tuned character moments. The big battles all happen off-screen, in the deep blackness of scene transitions. What matters is what comes before and what happens after. In this way, Thrones season one will undoubtedly go down as one of the great accomplishments in television history. It has wrought, if the season 7 trailer is any indication, a new high point in blockbuster television. But back in those first 10 hours, it was simply interested in perfecting its machinations.
This realization is the strongest takeaway from my revisit of season one. I don’t miss Catelyn Stark quite as much as I miss the way Michelle Fairley slowly, meticulously portrayed the destruction of her spirit. I don’t miss Daenerys and Drogo, but I do miss watching Emilia Clarke grow up as an actress right before our eyes in such a short period of time. I miss having good reason to simply despise Sansa Stark (she was awful) or the joy one could find in the blooming sociopath flower that was Joffrey.
There’s remorse in our survival beyond season one. But it’s not that we’ve survived these characters. It’s that we’ve survived a time when Game of Thrones was a beautifully crafted political drama. What we’re going to get in season 7 isn’t likely to be anything near the same show. And that’s okay, too. Things change, people change, Winter is really coming, and the show has become something different, for better or worse. But I miss it. Even more than I expected.
Today in Pop Culture History
Born this day in 1907 and 1913, respectively: John Wayne, “The Duke,” and Peter Cushing, the original Grand Moff. The latter was resurrected by CGI wizardry for Rogue One. For the former, it seems only a matter of time.
Today is also the birthday of Bobcat Goldthwait, one of the all-time great “That Guys” (see Police Academy) and one of our favorite modern filmmakers.
Thirty-five years ago today at Cannes, E.T. made its debut.
What You Need to Know Today
It’s Friday, which means two things:
1. For the next few weeks, I’ll be using this Friday column to drop Game of Thrones thoughts on you. That already happened.
2. Assuming I can get studios to give us free stuff each week, I’ll run a giveaway every Friday within this column. This week, I’ve got two Blu-ray copies of John Wick 2. All you need to do in order to enter is subscribe to this column via email newsletter. You can do so here.
Rob Hunter has reviewed Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. It didn’t end well for the movie.
Published this morning, this essay about the cinematic persistence of Faust by Meg Shields is a must read for anyone who has sympathy for the darkness.
Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the release of Star Wars. Brad Gullickson digs into our beautiful obsession with the Skywalker saga.
Shot of the Day
Back to where it all began: the first time we saw Winterfell.
GAME OF THRONES (2011) DP: Alik Sakharov | Dir: Tim Van Patten | Episode: "Winter is Coming" pic.twitter.com/5fjs4cpJSE
— One Perfect Shot (@OnePerfectShot) May 22, 2017