The kingdom of HBO's "Game of Thrones" expands to include the Atlanta Film Festival on its march to its second season. This year the 36th annual film event gives a nod to television with a screening of the "Game of Thrones" second season premiere at the Rialto Center for the Performing Arts on Wed., March 28. Arguably the hype for the epic fantasy series shifts into high gear with the release of its first season on DVD today, coming on the heels of the latest, appropriately sweeping Season Two trailer and "The Simpsons'" clever parody of the show's opening titles:
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The DVD release finally gives "Game of Thrones" newcomers a chance to catch up, with plenty of time to watch the 10 episodes that comprise the first season (and read our recaps along the way). If you have seen the show, it's fun to revisit the episodes with foreknowledge of what's to come (particularly regarding Sean Bean's Ned Stark). The handsome boxed set offers a handful of behind-the-scenes features, including one about the design of the titles, as well as indexes that explain the places and "houses" of George R.R. Martin's fictional Westeros, which allows newbies find answers to questions without going to the internet.
The commentaries provide arguably the best of the added-value options, with creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss giving the kind of informative behind-the-scenes information you'd expect, including continuity errors you'd never notice. Cleverly, the DVD producers frequently group the actors according to their characters' relationships: one track features the three youngest Stark kids (Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Isaac Hempstead-Wright). Some of the best perspective comes from novelist George R.R. Martin, who provides a solo commentary on the episode he wrote, "The Pointy End," as he points out the discrepancies between the page and the screen.
Despite having an incredible amount of detail about his fictional kingdoms at his fingertips, Martin proves tolerant of the changes required by adaptation. He mentions that some fans complained that Arya's "dance instructor" Syrio Forel, who's bald in the books, is played by Miltos Yerolemou with a big shock of hair. Martin finds such quibbles unimportant. I'm not sure he offers an opinion about right-handed Maisie Williams, who learned to sword-fight with her left hand, because in the books, Arya is left-handed. Like the original novel series A Song of Ice and Fire, "Game of Thrones" unfolds in such a thoroughly defined fictional world that it rewards a second look, especially if you can't wait for the second season.
Mo gibs muh 'dat.
One step forward, two steps back.
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