A Game of Thrones: Storytelling without Words

Published April 20, 2012 by wyldflamingo

“A Game of Thrones” is now several episodes into Season 2. The storytelling is complex, compelling–I can easily imagine Shakespeare, or Machiavelli observing similar antics in their day, and filing the details away for use in the writing. The acting is superb, the costuming gorgeous, the scenery (Northern Ireland, Malta, Iceland!) amazing.

And yet every time the opening credits roll, I am glued to my seat, staring, mesmerized.

Angus Wall has opening credit design props already (Big Love, Carnivale, Rome). I’ve seen the first two, and found them moving, and absorbing. But more than those others, “A Game of Thrones”‘ opening credits tells a story. And every time the story is different. Each time, the cities involved alter, to fit those who fall into the episode being aired.  Then, there’s the actual mechanics of the crdits themselves. The long shot is as though from a lens of a telescope, and the lens goes into more extreme magnifications to look down (godlike, perhaps) on the happenings of this world. As the lens focuses, a city begins to rise up–the construction is specific to the cities in the novels, which A Game of Thrones is based on. Kings Landing,  for example, has high towers and walls, which crank up as though a piece of clockwork. You can tell the size and potential importance of the locations based on how extensive the constructs are.

Another cutaway shot is of the sun following its path above the planet, further inviting the watcher to feel godlike in their third party observation of the stories happening below. The final shot, pulling back from the cities, focuses on the standards of the various royal houses involved–House Lannister, House Baratheon, House Stark, House Targaryen. The animal icons involved are all in various action poses–much like their houses, trying to find their way through the mess of the succession, and the intrigue that makes up the storyline.

Watching this map of the world come to life through its credits, I almost feel like I can the framework George R.R. Martin must have imagined, when he initially began the books this show is based on. I know Martin had planned to make this series so epic, so incredible, that television would never pick it up (after he experienced incredibly painful “kill” decisions on other shows he wrote for, specifically “Beauty and the Beast”, which had incredible storylines that television management couldn’t grasp). I hope he feels HBO is doing his vision justice.

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