Since 2011, the decision to adapt George R. R. Martin’s fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire onto the small screen has enabled Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss to augment the astounding attention to detail necessary to faithfully bring the world of Westeros to life. Now in 2015, making television history, GoT has become the first TV show to be theatrically released in the IMAX format, quite possibly enabling the producers to have fully maximised the technological, atmospheric and fantastical potential of the series.
Senior Vice President in charge of production at IMAX Lorne Orleans has described how the digital media remastering (DMR) process renders standard footage into the sharp, defined, near-perfect audiovisual quality offered only by IMAX at present, and is thus complementary to the detail, depth, scope and scale of Game of Thrones‘ epic status. North America enjoyed the exclusive screenings in over 200 IMAX theatres shared between Canada and the United States from January 30th to February 6th, with the possibility of more screenings in more territories in the future.
From the show’s inception, the intense fight for the Iron Throne has ruled television viewing figures, ignited obsessive Internet fandoms and has even inspired a baby name boom, with an increase of newborns being named Bran, Arya and even Khaleesi. Packing approximately ten hours into each season ensures R. R. Martin’s original material is portrayed in the meticulous manner that a piece of literature of such a captivating nature rightfully deserves, which a film adaptation would not have been able to achieve.
HBO’s Game of Thrones has further sparked the television versus film debate, having proven itself to match the superior standard of motion picture production throughout the past four seasons, which many have hailed even beyond the calibre of classic epic feature films. However, the format of Game of Thrones as a broadcast and/or streamed TV programme limits the extent to which aspects of the show, such as its action sequences, emphatic score and range of locations, can be fully appreciated.
By releasing the last two episodes of Season 4 in IMAX alongside the trailer for the upcoming Season 5 (due to commence in April), fans were able to experience the mastery of Game of Thrones on a grand cinematic scale. IMAX has transformed R. R. Martin’s beloved world of bloodshed, seduction and mystery into one that feels more real than ever before on the page, or the small screen.
Game of Thrones now takes further precedence in the television world as the first show to ever be screened in IMAX theatres.
Benioff and Weiss spoke to Entertainment Weekly after attending a private screening of Episodes 9 and 10, “The Watchers on the Wall” and “The Children”, in IMAX. Benioff told the magazine that “The communal experience of being surrounded by other people who are gasping at the same moments is the way it’s really meant to be seen,” illustrating the advantages of watching as a part of a larger audience, while Weiss described the viewing experience as “immersive and so superior”. The audience’s unified response to the projection of Game of Thrones on the big screen intensifies the palpable suspense of the episodes’ pivotal moments, adding to the gravitas of the season’s finale.
Showing the TV spectacular of Season 4’s climax at a heightened visual and aural quality has allowed the show to be revered on a new level. Ramin Djawadi, composer of the Game of Thrones score, praised the quality of the unparalleled audio technology, remarking that IMAX “captures the full spectrum of the sound”. The great battle between the wildlings and the Night’s Watch in “The Watchers on the Wall”, which takes up 31 minutes of the 55 minute long episode, is made more dynamic by the resounding volume of Djawadi’s powerful orchestral composition, as the music is heard at a volume that suits the climactic ending to the season.
Neil Marshall, the director of episode 9, admitted that he intentionally shot the episode as he would a film as opposed to a television programme. The poignant slow motion shot of Jon Snow holding Ygritte in the midst of the battle, a technique that Marshall previously utilised when he directed the episode “Blackwater”, is an example of a moment that undoubtedly would have a stirring effect when translated onto a larger screen.
Game of Thrones now takes further precedence in the television world as the first show to ever be screened in IMAX theatres. The show knows no bounds, filming simultaneously in multiple locations all over the world, employing highly esteemed actors and up-and-coming stars, and most notably taking on the risky challenge of adapting a renowned series of books with a dedicated and fiercely protective fan following.
Game of Thrones‘ televisual translation into the IMAX format not only proves that the show can be held in the same regard as big-budget action films and revolutionary epics that dominate the movie box office, but also demonstrates how the presentation and viewing experience can enhance viewers’ understanding of creative genius behind the TV phenomenon via a distinguished platform.
Writer and Editor for the Film & TV section of Impact, Bharat is a keen previewer, reviewer and sometimes just viewer, of all things cinematic and televisual, with a particular passion for biographical pictures, adaptations and sitcoms.