Fantasy is hardly a new or neglected genre in film and television entertainment. So when the hype about HBO’s latest offering, Game of Thrones, started you could be forgiven for thinking ‘oh no, not again’. Thankfully however, HBO is finally gifting adults with a new kind of intelligent and gritty fantasy story.
Due to the elements of magic and a make believe world, there is an unfortunate trend for fantasy films and television dramas to be primarily aimed at the younger market. BBC’s Merlin, the Harry Potter franchise and the Chronicles of Narnia films are good examples of that. Fantasy entertainment should not be seen as exclusively a children’s genre. Power struggles and the family sacrifices that come with responsibility are topics that feature frequently in children’s fantasy dramas; how are these not adult themes? Game of thrones highlights that these issues can be explored maturely even in a world where the White Ones and dragon eggs exist.
The main way in which Game of Thrones does this is by not being afraid to have complex characters, and families that are not exclusively good or bad. The bastard Jon Snow, the outsider we would normally be expected to emphasise with, arrives at Castle Black and turns out to be a bit of a snob. It is rather ambiguous whether Tyrion Lannister is the good one in an ambitious, heartless family. If you compare this with say Lord of the Rings, it’s rather obvious who the evil ones are, they’re rather ugly and called names like Wormtongue.
All hail the new age of realistic fantasy films and dramas.