Archive for the ‘Film & TV Tie-ins’ Category

A Song of Ice and Fire: The Books behind HBO’s Game of Thrones

Monday, April 7th, 2014

By Elizabeth Eckhart

George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series has gained immense popularity from the HBO television adaptation, Game of Thrones. The show has caused quite a frenzy, and even caused many fans to pick up the books in order to discover the fate of their favorite characters. What they may find in the novels, however, is a much deeper story than they ever knew existed.

While the show relies entirely on action and what viewers can see, the books delve deeply into each character’s inner thoughts. The chapters are told in third person from over 30 different points of view, and George R. R. Martin is a master at getting inside each and every one of their heads. In the books, popular characters such as Jon Snow, Daenerys and Tyrion are even more multi-layered than in the show – not only are they more complex, but often they are nastier than the generally morally correct versions viewers are shown on-screen.

Catelyn Stark, another primary example, is a popular point of view character in Martin’s books, but the show entirely removes her cold behavior toward Jon Snow, her husband Ned’s alleged bastard son. In the novels, she is resentful that Ned brought home an illegitimate child and is often cruel toward Jon, but the show softens her bitterness to a few measly remarks. With more time focused on her internal thoughts in the books, readers are able to become acquainted with her and have sympathy for her, despite her flaws, as is the case for several other characters as well.

It seems unlikely that HBO will truly be able to manage the growing cast of characters in the television format. After his third book, A Storm of Swords, Martin began to add so many point of view characters that he could not tell all of their stories within one installment. Only half of the characters appear in A Feast for Crows, and the other half appear in the fifth novel,  A Dance of Dragons. The events of the two books are simultaneous until the timeline catches up in the final chapters of Dance.

George R.R. Martin is known for making his fans wait years for his books, as long as half a decade, and many fear that the show (the fourth season of which is already done filming and set to premiere in the Netherlands on HBO tonight) will catch up to the events of the books before he is able to finish them. Especially since the wait for the sixth book, The Winds of Winter, is likely to be long as well.

Besides feeling the heat of the show’s progress, fans are also worried that that perhaps Martin himself will never finish the series, (he is after all, in his 60’s and above a healthy weight) in which case no one would ever find out who wins the game of thrones and rules the seven kingdoms. Show fans are busy worrying if Daenerys will ever make it to Westeros, but fans of the book are more concerned regarding the multiple additional mysteries that may never be resolved.

For example, Jon Snow’s parentage is a huge unanswered question in the series, and many fans suspect that he is not actually Ned’s bastard, but perhaps the offspring of Rhaegar Targaryen and Ned’s sister, Lyanna Stark, instead. Another unsolved mystery is the identity of Azor Ahai, the legendary hero who wields the sword Lightbringer (according to a prophecy). Under the influence of the red sorceress Melisandre, Stannis Baratheon believes himself be Azor Ahai, but many suspect Azor Ahai is actually Daenerys or Jon.

With the huge amount of character threads and plots that have arisen in Martin’s most recent book, it seems almost impossible for each character’s story to be tied up conclusively. Because of Martin’s tendency toward complexity, a clear “winner” of the Iron Throne seems unlikely, and perhaps the seven kingdoms of Westeros will be ruled independently, rather than having one true king.

Martin has stated that the ending he anticipates writing is “bittersweet.” Indeed, fans want concrete answers, but it is still unclear whether Martin will deliver them (after all, Martin is known for not catering to his fans’ wishes regarding plot). Much of his writing focuses on the journey rather than the outcome, but there is no question that the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series is a thrilling journey for its readers.

Elizabeth can be found on Twitter @elizeckhart.

Ebooks are available for each separate title as well as for the entire series (so far) in one:  A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, A Dance with Dragons (part 1 and part 2) and altogether.

Win tickets to The Invisible Woman!

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

In 1857, the 45 year-old Charles Dickens (Ralph Fiennes) falls in love with 18 year-old actress Nelly Ternan (Felicity Jones), who will be his muse/mistress for the rest of his life. Years later, the new life she has made is haunted by that guilty secret relationship.

Based on Claire Tomalin’s book The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens (ebook), this is Ralph Fiennes second turn at directing. It premieres in Dutch theaters on March 27th.

We are giving away 3×2 tickets to The Invisible Woman!

All you have to do is answer the following question: Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas (Mrs. Frances Ternan in the movie) starred together in another blockbuster that was based on a very famous book. What was the title of that book and the name of its author?

Mail your answers to by March 17th for a chance to win free tickets! Please include “Dickens” in the subject of your mail.

Saw the Movie? Read the Book!

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

These February movies are based on books:

The Monuments Men: based on the book with the same title by Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter (ebook here).  In 2007, Mr. Edsel founded the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art.

Twelve Years a Slave: based on the autobiography of Solomon Northup (ebook here).  The director, Steve McQueen, got the idea for this movie from his Dutch partner, who had read Northup’s book and was bowled over by it.

Winter’s Tale: based on Mark Helprin’s 1983 novel with the same title.  Please read this book; it’s beautifully written, dreamlike, inventive, funny – Literature with a capital L.  The kind of book that leaves you scratching your head in confusion as you wonder how it didn’t win any kind of award.  Thank you Akiva Goldsman for filming it; hopefully many people will discover it now!

Bonus movies based on books:

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 isn’t based on a book, but the original is: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi and Ron Barrett.

De Superheld (De tøffeste gutta) is based on an Arne Svingen book.  We’re thinking it’s also called De tøffeste gutta, but we’re not sure because we don’t speak Norwegian very well.  It’s not been translated into English, that’s for sure.

Saw the movie? Read the book!

Friday, January 17th, 2014

These January movies are based on books:

Ender’s Game: Based on Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (ebook here).  Did you notice Harrison Ford took out his earring for this role?

Parkland: Based on Four Days in November: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy by Vincent Bugliosi.  Although based on a true story and depicting real-life people, the end credits state: “All characters in this film are fictional and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.” (source: IMDb)

Philomena: Based on The Lost Child of Philomena Lee by Martin Sixsmith (ebook here)(retitled to Philomena for the movie).  Did you know Judi Dench is “only” 5′ 1″ (1,55 m) tall?

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: Based on the short story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber.  Tagline: Stop dreaming. Start living.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit: Based, not on a specific book, but on the character Jack Ryan as created by Tom Clancy.  Ryan first appeared in 1984, in The Hunt for Red October (ebook here).  Personal quote by Tom Clancy: “The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.”

The Wolf of Wall Street: Based on The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort (ebook here).  An oopsie: During the interview at the FBI office, the evidence box moves by itself to right next to Belfort. (source: IMDb)

The Book Thief: Based on The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (ebook here).  In this film, Death has a voice. POSSIBLY SOMETHING LIKE THE VOICE OF DISCWORLD’S DEATH.

Edited to add: The Congress: “Inspired by” The Futurological Congress by Stanislaw Lem (ebook here).  Director Ari Folman’s previous movie was Waltz with Bashir.

Bonus movies based on books:

I, Frankenstein: Based on the (currently unavailable) graphic novel by Kevin Grevioux.  Director/writer Stuart Beattie is known for co-screenwriting parts 2 and 3 of Pirates of the Caribbean.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom prize draw winners

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Congratulations to Sharon Prosetiko, Ana Castelo, Angelica Vigilante, Anita Kalmane, Babette Dolfin and Beatriz M. Navarrete:

you all won 2 tickets to Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom!

Thanks to everyone who entered this prize draw.  Your inspiring answers to the question Which other (auto)biography by a great inspirational leader did you absolutely love? can be found below.

“My favourite (auto)biography is: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.” (ebook here)

“I really loved Barack Obama’s Dreams from my Father. It gave me a good insight into his life and background and how he came to run for president. It had good flow and was a fun read.” (ebook here)

Virunga: The Passion of Dian Fossey by Farley Mowat is a moving biography of one of the world’s leading primatologists and environmental conservationalists, who was murdered for her work to save wild mountain gorillas. Inspiring and an urgent call for action.”
Blogmistress’s note: this book is unfortunately out of print at the moment. We can get it through our supplier of second-hand books, though.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X.”

“Two of my favorite inspirational leaders for which I enjoyed reading their biography were Steve Jobs and Martin Luther King, Jr.

“My favourite biography is about Erich Maria Remarque: Als wäre alles das letzte Mal by Wilhelm von Sternburg.”
Blogmistress’s note: this book is not translated into English (yet, or else out of print).

The Singapore Story: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew.”
Blogmistress’s note: this book is unfortunately out of print at the moment. We can get it through our supplier of second-hand books, though.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X.”

“The first biography that comes into my mind is a cinematographic one, namely the movie Papillon. Not exactly the story of a leader, but surely an inspirational one, raising strong feelings about justice, freedom and friendship.”
Blogmistress’s note: The movie Papillon is in fact based on the memoir Papillon by Henri Charrière (ebook here).

“The other biography I also loved was the The Autobiography of Malcolm X.
What other inspirational people often have in common is that they where raised decent and generally good at heart from the start, so to speak, and then grow into an influential role.
What I loved was the development of someone, who cares for nothing but himself at first, to one who is carrying millions in guidance by his own example and narrative
Also it is amazing and (hopefully) not to be seen again that such a large group of people follow the words and instructions of one man.
Good or bad, it is still just another human being.
I have yet to come across any man or leader who is truly an angel at heart.”

“The biography I most like is the one written by John Carlin: Playing the Enemy.” (ebook here)

John Hume: Statesman of the Troubles, by Barry White, is a fantastic read, and I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in Mandela’s life and struggles. It certainly taught me about the compassion, resilience and greatness of a man in my own country, whom I’d been brought up to think was but a boot-licker of Britain and her ‘Ulster’ Unionists.
Just as Mandela realised the need for a change of attitude in order to move forward, John Hume had grasped, early on in the late ’60s, the torch of peace, truth and reconciliation in the forgotten, apartheid statelet in Ireland, north of the border.
Statesman of the Troubles depicts Hume’s own long walk for the freedom of the ‘Blacks of Europe’ in the remaining corner of their own country still under the foot of a regime, whose repression remains unknown to others but the people of that island, in a completely objective and unbiased way. Two of the inherent qualities of Hume himself, whose humility from the beginning of his social and political career also offered ‘freedom to the jailer’.”
Blogmistress’s note: this book is unfortunately out of print at the moment. We can get it through our supplier of second-hand books, though.

Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton is cautious, wary, and about as juicy as an orange. It is a valuable feminist document.
I like this book not because of the history Senator Clinton records, but because of the history she doesn’t record. She notes that she cannot give undisputed facts, ”I am responsible for the opinions and interpretations expressed in this memoir’.” (ebook here)