Game of Thrones 1 (2011)  

Reviewer: Charity Bishop

 

George R.R. Martin's bloodthirsty fantasy novels have found their home on HBO in Game of Thrones. An epic, sprawling story full of memorable characters and sinister events, it quickly sweeps you up into its complicated world while reminding you that not all fantasy is as innocent as Narnia.

 

White walkers have not been seen in centuries, but the Guardians of the Wall fear their return with the approaching winter. Summer has lasted for ten years and the cold is coming. But of more immediate concern is the news that the King's advisor has died, and he comes to Winterfell to invite Lord Stark (Sean Bean) the position, much to the concern of Lady Stark (Michelle Fairley), who fears her husband's absence will mean misfortune for them all. King Baratheon's presence in the northern kingdom brings unease when his wife Cersei (Lena Headey) is discovered by Lord Stark's son as having a "special relationship" with her twin brother Jamie (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). The boy is thrown from an upper window and the family is left to deal with the horrific consequences.

  

Lord Stark's illegitimate son Jon (Kit Harrington) travels north to take the black cloth and become a Guardian of the Wall, and strikes up an unlikely friendship with Cersei's older brother, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage). Meanwhile, across the Narrow Sea, the official heir to the throne is seeking out means of reclaiming his kingdom. Viserys (Harry Lloyd) has arranged a marriage between his sister Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) to Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa), a chieftain lord who has promised to help him reclaim his throne. But as the two armies prepare for war and unravel a shocking plot of betrayal and murder, an ancient evil rises in the north...

 

In purely cinematic terms, Game of Thrones is a masterpiece. It creates a fascinating and dangerous world in which an unforgettable cast of characters dwell. Some we love, and others we love to hate, but none of them leave us with a lack of emotion. The detail and setting is immaculate and the cast is incredibly strong, ranging from the big-screen names mentioned here to later appearances by such individuals as Aidan Gillen, whose character proves more interesting than most, the lynchpin that drives all, a clever man who is more than he seems (one early prophetic line of dialogue has him telling Lord Stark, "not trusting me was the wisest thing you have done since you got off your horse") and Charles Dance. But the tagline of this series is "don't get too attached," and that proves true: in these stories, no one is safe and before the end, some of our favorite characters will die.

  

Sean Bean is the main driving force of this first season, and arguably its strongest point. This is assisted by the fact that he is the "leading character" but it is hard not to come to love him for the smaller things, such as the pride he takes in watching his youngest daughter learn to handle a sword. He is also one of the few truly "good" men involved, since elsewhere we have fornicators, rapists, warlords, and pimps. Unfortunately, the fantastic storytelling comes with a heavy dose of violence, sex, and nudity, along with the not-so-occasional f-word. Game of Thrones is a hard series to review, because it seems like just when I was settling into it, some pointless sexual content or nudity would throw it off course. It tends to be as graphic as possible for purely shock value, which at times undermines the incredible writing used as its foundation. I cannot say that it is an enjoyable experience because in many ways it is heart-wrenching, but it creates a unique world that I have never experienced before... and at times, a world I would not care to experience again.

  

Sexual Content:

Each episode has at least one graphic sex scene, with accompanying female nudity; elsewhere, both women and men are shown completely naked, for varying lengths of time. One of the more awful things I fast-forwarded through was an extended monologue from a character while two of his whores "practice" on one another in the background. An incestuous sexual relationship between siblings is not only shown, but becomes a major plot arc. Another man is involved in a homosexual affair with one of his knights (they are shown kissing and... preparing to do other things). Another subplot involves an eight year old child suckling from his mother's breast.

     

Language:

Infrequent but profane, with uses of the f-word. Foul language intrudes on numerous occasions, often referencing male and female reproductive organs in vile terms.

  

Violence:

The violence becomes grisly on more than one occasion, ranging from knights in jousts being stabbed in the neck and suffocating in their own blood to beheadings and dismemberments. Men are sliced in half, have boiling gold poured over their head (with naturally fatal results), have their tongues ripped out through their throats, and much more. Animal lovers should also be forewarned that an angry knight who has just lost a joust cuts his horse's head off with one fatal blow. Lord Stark is forced to put to death an innocent northern wolf that is a pet to one of his daughters when the queen becomes displeased with it (off-screen). We watch as a man disembowels a dead deer and then proceeds to skin it -- on camera. A witch slices a horse's throat open, and we watch it founder and cry out as it dies. 

   

Other:

There are multiple references to pagan gods, and a satanic ritual that involves a blood sacrifice and the "restoration of life" (in exchange for a death).

Related Products

Books

Fiction & Nonfiction

Costume Dramas

TV & Movie Reviews

Femnista

FREE Literature, History & Film Webzine

Blog Posts

Digging Deeper into Culture