Somewhat last minute but still under the wire, SEK of Lawyers, Guns, and Money and I are back with the eighth installment of our video podcast series on Season 1.
Check it out!
FYC: Much as I like Syrio Forel and all things pertaining to ASOIAF swordplay, I didn’t care for his fight’s choreography in this episode: too little point work, too few thrusts (“when you *pierce* them, the water leaks out and they die”), too much of the very “hacking & hammering” the Braavosi water dance is supposed to reject.
I’ll make an exception for the bit with the cloak (tangling up one guardsman and redirecting him into another’s sword.) That was a nice touch. But the other three were all taken down with variations on “now I whack you in the head and you fall over unconscious.”
For all that he treats Arya with respect and kindness, Syrio is still a brutally efficient swordsman, and that should have been made clear with something other than speed. Where was, say, a thrust to the eye? (Cue reaction shot of guardsman screaming, VFX blood spurting out between fingers.) A slash at the throat? (Cue reaction shot: guardsman staggering back into wall, asphyxiating, trachea collapsed.) A thrust at the side of the knee? (Cue prop limb bending violently sideways, dub in sound effect of tree branch snapping.)
The show’s apparent aversion to thrusts reared its head again in the S4 premiere during Hound’s bar fight. There’s a beat during the Hound’s time on the floor in which one of his attackers strikes at him with overhand cuts; the Hound holds his sword out (parry 5, in stage-combat language) and just holds it there while his attacker continues to strike it. The net takeaway is clumsy and unconvincing; a more dramatic and desperate visual would have involved attempted thrusts, trying to pin the Hound to the floor like a skewer, deflected with beat parries.
There’s not a lot of thrusts in stage combat in general – they’re rather more dangerous to the actors and stuntmen.
I disagree; thrusts require different targets and distance to be made stage-safe, but they’re quite feasible. E.g. Harvey Keitel’s first duel in “The Duellists,” Tim Roth’s moves in “Rob Roy,” Inigo vs. Rugen in “The Princess Bride,” the BBC’s recent Musketeers adaptation (or the 2011 steampunk version of the same.)
I should have mentioned some relevant personal background: I attend law school full-time, but I include stage combat on my list of hobbies: I tested with the Society of American Fight Directors a couple of years ago. My TV & film experience is limited to some SAFD classes, but I have choreographed fights for live theatre on both a paid & volunteer basis.
I think the reason Game of Thrones neglected to include more of them in these scenes is that they’re not as large & visually easy to track as cuts are, so a viewer has to pay slightly closer attention to the fight. Replacing them with cuts still works, it’s just more heavy-handed; the stage combat equivalent of the “Explain these houses to me” Bran-&-Luwin scene from Season 1, if you will.
I’ve done quite a bit of stage combat myself, and I wasn’t saying they never do thrusts, just that they are a bit trickier and as you say less visually impressive.
I didn’t know that; that’s awesome! Where did you train?
Acting camp for 4 years of high school, plus Theater classes during the regular year. Loved stage combat, especially when I got to be impaled by a halberd in the big battle sequence we staged for Richard III. I can still remember the nine basic blocks and slashes.
I feel Varys is being surprisingly straightforward here. Yeah, he’s angling to use a civil war to pave the way for Aegon the Maybe to take the IT- but from his actions in smuggling Tyrion to Essos, it seems he’s got an interest in making sure there are decent, just men for Aegon to tap and help him rule. I feel like he’s trying to keep Ned alive so Ned can declare for Aegon and get the north behind him.
I’m not so sure about that – Ned would be a hardcore Baratheon supporter given his statements about Stannis. But I think the idea is that if Ned takes the black, then Robb isn’t quite so alienated that he wouldn’t be willing to make a deal with the Targaryens against the Lannisters.
What is Varys’ gameplan for Tyrion, then? I’ve read the books twice, but I can’t come up with any more compelling reason for springing Tyrion than he’s a clever enough dude and a good asset for Aegon VI. Have I missed something?
Because Tyrion is massively disaffected from the Lannisters and will be a-ok with destroying him, because Tyrion will kill Tywin for him and divide and destabilize the Lannister regime, and because Aegon VI can use him as an alternate claimant on Casterly Rock.
In regards to your speculation about the Sansa Littlefinger creepiness, I think they will cut out that part entirely, or perhaps suggest it only around the edges. They have left it out so far. I remember Martin saying that in terms of censorship, it matters how old the character is not how old the actor is. So Sansa would still be too young. All this is good news by the way. I really don’t want to see that stuff on TV. The moral tension will already be there, so eliminating the layer of grossness won’t subtract anything.
I think they’ll show the kiss, but nothing else.
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