Movies as “Cliff’s Notes”

When Game of Thrones released on HBO, I watched it religiously. Like millions of others, I ate up season one. Gobbled it. So tasty. I loved, and still love, the characters (#TeamSansa), the style, the plot twists.

And here is where I have to admit an unpopular thing. I’d started – or tried to start – A Song of Ice and  Fire many times before. I couldn’t get past the opening in Game of Thrones. Something about it was too dense. My imagination was just not strong enough (I guess?) to conjure up what was being described. I couldn’t keep characters straight. I just didn’t know what the heck was going on. I couldn’t focus on it.

Now, however, I was armed with the television series.

So I read the book after I saw the show.

I know! This goes against everything you ever hear. It feels like everyone insists that you Read The Book First, or you’re not a Real Fan or you’re not a Real Reader or you’re not a Real Something.

But, I gotta tell you, watching Game of Thrones – just the first season to start – opened up the prose of the book for me. As a reader, I tend to make the book into a movie in my head. Suddenly I had set pieces, accents, costumes, and character descriptions laid out before me. Now that the designers of the show had done some heavy lifting for me, I could enjoy the books and plug things in where I couldn’t before. Sigils were somehow comprehensible…and everywhere.

Once I made it through the first book, I finished all the other books before continuing the television series. (And, yes, I became one of those “superior” folks who smiled knowingly when the Red Wedding happened.)

Basically, the series served as an introduction, a guidebook, for me.

Which brings me to Dune.

Photo by Sharad Bhat on

Not a fantasy, but a science fiction Classic with a Capital C. This is a book, like Game of Thrones, that has always somehow felt beyond me. I’ve started it, put it down, started it, put it down, and wondered “What am I just not getting?”

The old television and movie adaptations have not helped.

Now, however, the trailer for Denis Villeneuve’s has dropped. I understand, just from the fact that it’s a movie and not a television series, that there will be: 1. Many things missing and 2. An object of much criticism from Real Fans. But this trailer alone has done what the Game of Thrones series did for me before. I can see it. I understand the character relationships.

Like a Real Fan, I will read the original book before this new movie releases. And I’m excited to finally get into such a cornerstone of the science fiction genre. Like a Real Movie Buff, I’m also eagerly anticipating watching a movie so beautifully created.


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