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Published on Sep 25, 2016
What makes Game of Thrones so captivating? Of course, its production values, quality acting, and action sequences are setting new bars. Its depictions of violence and conflict have us hooked. But beyond this, the most beautiful moments in Game of Thrones articulate an idea of human strength and life balancing the suffering and injustice that dominate its screen time.
I became obsessed with the idea of expressing this dynamic in some form, and with this video, found a vehicle for that expression in the song “One and the Same” by Rob Dougan.
There is often one thing — perhaps a tragic flaw, or an unalterable circumstance — that ends up defining a person’s life. Think of Ned Stark’s foolish honor, Jaime and Cersei’s illicit love, or Oberyn’s overconfidence. Lord Varys’s castration at the hands of a sorcerer, or Tyrion’s realization that he’s been “on trial all his life” for being a dwarf.
For these characters, every choice and action in their life is bound to that single inescapable thing. This “helplessness” is their shared condition, and despite being sworn enemies in mortal life, on a higher plane they are kindred spirits in that struggle against fate (or whatever other name it’s given).
What Game of Thrones dramatizes so well is how the inescapable must become vital (as with the heroes of Greek myth). We see first the importance of metamorphosis — through the circumstances that break us and shape us for our destiny. Equally important, whatever change comes must always contain an aspect that stays the same, that cannot be forgotten.
We meet the Hound as the bodyguard to a psychotic king, and his subsequent transformation (and his deeds, good and bad) stem from the lesson that life left on him early on — brute strength wins over justice (for the time being). Arya, the spiritful daughter of a great lord, becomes “no-one” yet holds on to her identity as a Stark, and in doing so, avenges her family’s betrayal and murder.
Game of Thrones is on the surface a story about knights, dragons, and magic. But it’s also a reminder of all that we share beneath the surface (with our past selves, with each other)… and, in service of this reminder, breathtaking choreography of wonders and sorrows.