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.

A Game of Thrones dune fantasy frank herbert George R.R. Martin In Other Worlds Movies science fiction

jenny maloney View All →

Jenny writes dark fiction that her mother hates. Her stories and essays have appeared in Across the Margin, Pantheon, Shimmer, Black Denim Lit, Skive, and others. When she’s not writing her own stuff, she’s reading mysteries for Criminal Element. When she’s not writing fiction or reviews, she’s writing/directing/performing/designing plays at Springs Ensemble Theatre.

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