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EKATERINA V. SALNIKOVA
State Institute for Art Studies,
TRANSFORMATION OF СLASSIC DRAMA MOTIFS IN GAME OF THRONES SERIES
Abstract. Game of Thrones series that has become one of the most widely discussed TV shows of our time, is analyzed from the perspective of art history and cultural studies. Its popularity is connected with the fact that it represents not just fantasy, but an archetypal situation, “deciding the fates”—in the style of a “baroque”, picturesque, dynamic screen show. This is an artistic statement on a number of highly relevant topics. The series is devoted to problems of management strategies, interstate policy, updated gender relations. The last season shows the emergence of an era of quick intelligence and unemotional, non-repressive governance. The image of Bran Stark—the new king, unable to walk but able to move in the space of the past and the future—embodies the features of an out-of-body, suprapersonal mind, super-intelligence akin to an electronic one.
Game of Thrones is analyzed as a phenomenon of synthetic art in which cinematic, theatrical and dramatic aesthetic elements coexist. In different episodes of the eighth, final season these aesthetic elements are combined in various proportions. The third episode is the most cinematic one—the culmination of the battle between humans and White Walkers. The last episode, on the contrary, contains almost “on-stage” scenes and dialogues.
Until the last season, the adventurous cinematic narration dominated, continuing the tradition of the adventure novel. And the last season includes more vivid features of a dramatic plot internally correlated with Shakespeare’s chronicles and tragedies and Penthesilea, a romantic tragedy by Kleist. However, in spite of the similarities with Shakespeare’s “state-ofthe-world tragedies”, there are no characters in Game of Thrones who are completely similar to Renaissance playwright’s personae in their structure.
One of the reasons is the rejection of a multi-faceted, “synthetic” character in the popular visual art of the Modern era, when the personality’s complexity and unique originality are replaced with the system of distinct “stage types” with a simpler inner world. The series contains a veiled appeal to adapt to the imperfection of the world, but also expresses serious concern about the continuously high value of brute force and power in the human society.
Keywords: screen media, series, George Martin, Game of Thrones, adventure novel, drama, Shakespeare, Kleist, theme of power, tragedy, chronicle, character, female warrior