Since I don't have HBO (and I did look into getting it for this purpose, believe me), I'll have to download to get my fix of A Game of Thrones. I don't really do that so I wasn't sure how long it would take; apparently, it will take longer than tonight. I'm gearing up for a night of writing unrelated fanfiction and watching unrelated Netflix episodes, and I'm thinking about...The Lord of the Rings.
Like most nerd kids of my era, I used to react to a good work of fantasy by wishing that someone would make a movie out of it. Also typically, I felt that all my favorites were untouchable and could only be destroyed by Hollywood, and at that time, it was probably true, at least regarding Tolkien's ilk. I spent a wistful decade wishing I could see the magic in motion, and in the meantime, special effects and blockbuster budgets marched on until they reached the point at which Peter Jackson could say it was time to make a Lord of the Rings trilogy.
My friends (I had nerd friends, duh) and I were insane with anticipation. We obsessed over the casting. We drooled whenever a production photo appeared. We flapped our hands at each other when we found out that they were SUBTITLING the QUENYA. When we took our seats at the midnight premier of The Fellowship of the Ring, we babbled at each other until the previews began, and then the only sounds we made for the next three hours were squeaks of joy, laughter, gasps, and applause.
Needless to say, the movie didn't let us down. Neither did the next two (although I was with different nerds for each, the shared sentiment remained). We had been to Middle-Earth. The books that could not be filmed had been filmed, and it worked.
Rewind a few years. Somewhere between reading the book and hearing the movies announced. The same friends from the first gang had introduced me to a new (not really new) fantasy series, George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. I said I can't handle plots? Well, I'm better with books than TV, but this series went way, way over my head. I loved it anyway. Not just the fangirl bookworm kind of love that I fostered for all kinds of good and bad sword-and-sorcery novels, but the living it, breathing it, judging-others-based-on-how-much-they-li
But, shucks. There was no way it could ever be filmed. A movie couldn't contain the scope of even one of the books, and a TV show wouldn't have the budget. (Not to mention, of course, that the series wasn't finished. We figured it would just take a few more years. Here I laugh to myself a hearty chuckle.) Oh, well.
In the meantime, along came HBO. When they bought the rights I was both floored and ecstatic. I didn't have as many nerd friends around to revel with me, but I followed the news faithfully on my own, with the added benefit of more online resources to cling to. Everything I read and saw just made it look better and better. I flapped my hands at an empty room when I found out they were CREATING a DOTHRAKI LANGUAGE.
I haven't seen the first episode yet, but I already know that it didn't let me down. They're sticking close to canon, the casting is beautiful, and money's been poured into making every last detail of Westeros stunning and accurate. Add that to the reviews so far (including the bad ones - a bad review from a bad reviewer isn't quite the same as a good review from a good reviewer, but it still holds some merit), and I don't really see what could go wrong.
Except this: The Lord of the Rings is over. The saga was adapted to the screen, and it was done with enough inspiration and devotion to the source material that it would be ridiculous for anyone else to try to trump it. We got our movies, and whatever didn't satisfy us about them is something we'll have to live with, because we're not getting anything else.
Adaptations, at their absolute best, are redundant. We want them to be redundant. We want them to resemble the source material, or there's no point. I always thought I understood that pretty well. "I just want a visual aid," I'd say. Know what's going to happen at the end of Game of Thrones Season 1? I do. The suspense that's killing me is regarding the way it's going to look. Hardcore GRRM fans like me might be the ones displaying the most excitement over the new series, but the truth is that we're also the ones who are going to get the least out of it. I know there's more than eye candy to be had here, but if I want it, I'm going to have to re-read the books and try hard to remember what it felt like the first time.
Correction: the suspense really isn't killing me.
It still bothers me that the world heard Frodo say out loud that he had to believe in Gollum's potential to be saved. It irritates me that a walking tree refused to fight for his world until it was for the sake of the lives of individual trees. It nettles me that I asked a friend lately if she liked The Lord of the Rings, and she replied that she'd never seen those movies. Nobody's forgotten about the book, but its echo is still out there pretending to be real, and I'm still shrugging because I can't regret having ten hours of beautiful footage at my disposal.
This is probably the last time I'll get to say these words in this context, so let's toast: Winter Is Coming. And I'll be watching. And I'm excited to hear everyone's reactions, across the board. But Winter Is Ending, too, and that's never happened before.
I'm going to miss it.