Sunday, 23 September 2012

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Game of Thrones: "Winter Is Coming" for Catelyn and Jon Snow (This is another one of those visual rhetoric posts that's born of this upcoming course ... which now has its own website that's only a demo at the moment so don't judge.) To recap: in the first post, I demonstrated how Van Patten turned Will into a sympathetic character. In the second post, I established that the scenes in Winterfell that weren't in the novel were designed to establish a perspective on Will's coming execution that's focalized through Bran, but which also introduces the audience to the larger Stark family dynamics. (I also, as Julia Grey pointed out, inadvertantly indicated how Arya's character would develop over the course of the season. I'll let Julia's analysis carry the weight of that interpretative thread for now and return to it when it comes to fore later.) Before I can yoke those arguments together, though, it would behoove us to see what happens when Bran steps off-stage, as it were, beginning with the announcement of Will's capture: Those smiles are residual: for one of the only time in the series, Ned and Catelyn have watched Arya and Bran engaging in what we might call "play." She hits his target and he's encouraged by his brothers, bastard and true, as well as his parents, to take off after her: There's levity to this scene, from the shocked faces in the medium shot of the first frame to Arya's mocking curtsy in the long shot of the second, but Van Patten has other intentions here: Bran needs to look fast and agile, and Van Patten establishes this by how he reverses the camera. In the first frame, Bran stands motionless in a medium shot; in the second, Arya curtsies in a long shot that seems longer because the level of framing makes her look smaller by leaving the top-third of the frame open, in the sense that her head doesn't occupy it. The fact that it's not only occupied, but stuffed full of objects-which-are-not-Arya further diminishes her. In the third, the level of framing shifts slightly down—which you can measure by the line on the pig or the distance between the head of the man on the right and the top of the frame—as Bran begins giving chase to his sister. His head barely turns in that frame before Van Patten cuts quickly to the fourth frame of the happy couple observing their children frolic, but then the camera reverses and Bran's halfway up the stable fence. That's significant: in the third frame he'd barely turned, merely tousling his hair, and still occupied the same plane in the mise-en-scene as Jon and Robb; by the fifth frame, Bran's traversed the distance between Jon and Robb and Arya during a half-second cutaway to Ned and Catelyn. He's moved to and mounted the fence so quickly that his older brothers, though stationary and clear enough to be seen visibly laughing, have become victims of the shallow focus that Bran's speed has necessitated. Because Bran is fast and...

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