‘I watch it for historic reasons.’ Representation and reception of the Middle Ages in ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ and ‘Game of Thrones’
By Riccardo Facchini
Práticas da História, No.4 (2017)
Abstract: This article aims to analyse several ideas of the Middle Ages that inspired HBO’s TV show Game of Thrones (HBO 2011-), based on George R. Martin’s ongoing series of novels A Song of Ice and Fire (1996-). The phenomenon will be read through the concept of “medievalism”, i.e. «the representation, the reception and the post-medieval use of the Middle Ages».
After a short introduction concerning the Middle Ages and cinema, I will analyse the new way in which Martin represents and perceives medieval times. This different approach places in the medieval era the disillusionment and the alleged absence of values typical of postmodern times, often hidden behind the notion of historical “realism”. The result is a rejection of the neo-medieval romantic idealization of the Middle Ages that characterized most twentieth-century productions
Introduction: This article will examine the idea of the Middle Ages offered by the popular TV series Game of Thrones, produced by the American network HBO (2011-), created by David Benioff and Daniel Brett Weiss, and based on George Raymond Richard Martin’s literary saga A Song of Ice and Fire. It will operate a transmedia analysis, since, even if there are differences between the two products, the TV show and the novels have deeply and reciprocally influenced each other. Martin has actively contributed, at least until season five, to the production of Game of Thrones, offering his opinions about casting choices, scenography, locations and costumes. He also reviewed the scripts of each episode and each of the first four seasons contains an episode written by Martin himself.