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02/01/2013

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Velis Vel

The zoom in on the first decapitated head is not an extreme close-up, just a close up. The head doesn’t take up enough of the screen to qualify as an extreme close-up.

Will did outrun the horrors he saw in the forest. In the book, dying to White Walkers or dying north of the Wall increases the likelihood of becoming one. Dying in Winterfell means he’ll die far away from them, where it is unlikely that he will come back to life as a White Walker or be a victim of their corpse mutilation. He won’t forget what he saw, but he probably won’t go through a second life becoming what he saw.

my name is...

Although it is true that we realize that Will is most likely going to be in danger since he is traveling away from the Wall, this isn’t only true to him. I believe that the very first scene’s main point isn’t to show that Will is in peril, but that all three of the characters are traveling away from the safety of the wall into the wild. I don’t think we are supposed to see yet that Will is going to meet a sad end from the first shot.

In the shot where Van Patten zooms into an extreme close-up on Will, I think that another element that adds to Will’s feeling of uncertainty is that in the extreme close-up, not only is he not deviating more away from the center of the frame, but his head and chin are cut off. This gives us an uncomfortable feeling and we realize that Will thinks something is off about what he is seeing.

Then in the scene where Gared sees the white walker in behind Royce, I believe the main purpose of the shallow focus (besides making the audience be on edge wondering what the heck is that thing with the blue eyes) is to show how oblivious Royce is to his surrounding, which further portrays his lack of experience in his work. We don’t actually learn about the details of the three characters in the prologue of the show like we do in the novel, but I believe that even Van Patten would want to keep some of the information we learned from the book and incorporate that into the TV adaption. Since the length of the episode is limited, Van Patten chose to reveal the character’s personalities in a more subtle manner.

GymRat

In the second shot shown, where the riders are entering the forest, I believe this shot does more than establish that there is no one else around other than the riders. This shot is meant to make people feel uncomfortable because of what is the center of focus. As you can see, the people on the horses are not in the center of the frame, the tree is the more dominant image in this shot, which is generally a sign that we should feel uneasy and suspicious. We may not be sure of why we should feel this way, but as of right now, we should feel like something bad is going to happen. This contradicts what we actually see. Since you feel that the forest is not a safe place, would expect the forest to be dark and mysterious, but it is white and open.

Lucid Cognitions

In, the establishing shot, Van Patten introduces us to both The Wall and the men, small men due to the extreme long shot making them small black dots at the mercy of the vastness of The Wall. We are not specifically introduced to Will until we are in the forest, which is after a couple scenes of traveling to said forest. Van Patten never explicitly says that Will is indebted to a great power, nor does he say Will is in peril, only a thorough read of the Night's Watch would give that clue. The shot just establishes that three men are traveling away from what seems to be an inhabited place to an uninhabited, dark forest, they could be explorers, carrying word somewhere, or deserters for all we know, all we are certain of is that 1) The Wall is HUGE and 2) These men move away from The Wall.

I don't see how the deep focus in the second establishing shot has the conflicting impression that we can see everything, but there's something there we don't see. The purpose of deep focus is to allow a wider range of space, it truly shows how far away we are from important items in the shot, such as the tree (closer) and the men (further).

The zoom from the long shot of the smoke to the medium close-up (not extreme close-up) of the head on a stake is not a thinking zoom in any respect. A thinking zoom implies a closing in on an object already seen in a previous shot or scene, if you never had any knowledge of it before and it cuts to a close-up of it from a shot of anything else, the shots stand alone when referring to thinking zooms. The shot of the head and the shot of the smoke are diegetically and spatially related, but independently presented, it is new information. Sure, the characters may experience the scene in this way, moving about and not staying focused on one thing, but never does Van Patten have the head on a stake in the frame of the smoke, it is not a thinking zoom in nor a thinking zoom out.

Bene Vitae

While I believe that the prologue is not simply excessive and a waste of time, I would argue that there is more to the prologue than you believe it to be. You claim that the prologue is to set the character up for the inevitability of death. I believe that he is doing something that annoyed me to no end: confusing the reader/watcher.

I watched the show before reading the book so I have a different outlook on the show. I never knew that all the characters had their own narratives, and I expected that there was a main character, or at least a small group of main characters that I would expect to stay alive through the show and would be the ones I rooted for. When I first started watching, I believed Ed Stark the main character and that his family was who were the “good guys”. (Wow, was I wrong.)

So imagine my confusion in the first 10 minutes of the prologue. Who are these people? What are their names again? Which one is the main character? What? Who died? What?! THEY ALL DIED? WHAT IS GOING ON; I DON’T EVEN-

This, I believe, is what he is going for. He is trying to confuse us. For the prologue is usually focused on the “main character”, or a blatant foreshadowing of what is to come. His prologue is as far from blatant as can be and does not tie to the “main characters” at all. There is no “main character”, so he cannot focus on any one of them in fear of misleading the character that Martin actually is rooting for any one person. Therefore, he must use dummy characters – sacrificial lambs.

There is no “main character” – just the world in many peoples’ perspectives. And so he uses this prologue to confuse us early on so that we are not so very confused later on when ever fucking person you thought was the main character dies.

Sweta Sharma

While I do believe there is sympathy for Will in the prologue, I disagree that he is the narrator in both the episode and the book. There is no narrator in the episode, and the narrator is not established in the book. I also don’t agree on your perspective of how Van Patten communicates Will’s life to become a sad end. In your blog post you stated, “Moreover, the contrast between the blue-white snow and the black riders suggests that not only is Will in peril, he's conspicuously so, which means he's all the more likely to meet a sad end. And Van Patten's communicated all of this in a single shot,” however, one single shot of snow and riders in black cannot simply communicate that Will is eventually going to die. There is more than just revealing the color significance to communicate that Will is going to die or that just because he stands out in the environment he will die. It all cannot be shown in one single shot. I believe there has to be multiple shots for Van Patten to use in order to produce the fear and anxiety of Will riding to his death. Shots such as canted framing, and level and angle of framing along with switching to unexpected shots at a fast pace will be able to produce some type of anxiety and fear that COULD lead to the end of Will’s life.

miss

Though I agree that devoting so much time on Will’s death creates some sympathy, I believe that it actually serves a more significant purpose for the series—what Will had encountered in the woods is something that the whole story will revolve around. The prologue is not to just set Will for death—in fact, the viewer does not know until later that he would actually escape the woods, and die beheaded. Will’s death brings the viewers an introduction to the rest of the characters as well as creates a suspenseful mood for the show. At first the prologue seems to be insignificant in comparison with the rest of the plot, but proves to be a considerable event.

Additionally, I believe that the scene of the lifeless head on a stake is not an extreme close-up shot, but rather just a regular close-up. Though the scene captures the head substantially, the director does not zoom to fill the whole frame with the head. This could be because the director felt that the zoom was sufficient to bring forth repulsion from viewers.

Taco Tuesdays

I disagree with Will having a "thinking zoom" at the start of the episode because the zoom to a an extreme close was accompanied by him actually moving, Will then ducks under the current level of framing (as opposed to the director raising the level of framing), which does not clearly indicate that he is thinking. Finally the shot reverses looking towards his back, breaking the eyeline match indicative of a thinking zoom. Van Patten possibly did not want to reveal what Will was actually seeing with a POV shot. Rather the indirect perspectives (achieved with reverse shots and extreme close ups) conceal things the viewers think they see but with the shallow depth of focus, the element of surprise is much more evident.
After witnessing the beheading of his companion, the thought of running is abandoned by Will, as he falls down onto his knees, almost accepting his grim fate at the hands of the white walkers. This scene prompts me to believe that Will is not constant running away from death (although the scene after the opening credits indicates that he did for some time).

Brown Sugar

First off, the establishing shot does not establish that Will is in peril; however, it does establish the vastness of the wall because it is cut off from the frame and the audience can only see its vanishing point. While all three men ride into the forest, there seems to be a point of view shot through the eyes of whatever is stalking the men. There is no long shot because the scale of an object in a long shot is small so all three men should fit the height of the screen, but they do not; the audience feels uncomfortable because they do not know what is watching the men and it creates a suspenseful tone. The zoom in on the butchered bodies is not an extreme close-up because they do not take up a large portion of the screen. When the camera zooms in onto Will’s face, it makes the audience feel uneasy not only because Will is thinking, but also because he is off center.

AwesomeYoselin

Although the prologue seems to focus primarily on Will I do not think that the purpose was to portray his life and death. The purpose of the prologue was to show the audience the real danger that people need to worry about such as the white walkers (which as it turns out aren't so white in the series) and the long winter. So far it seems that the characters are too worried about the dispute over who is to rule the seven kingdoms when in reality it's just a petty matter, I mean will it really matter when the winter does not end and the white walkers manage to make it over the wall to kill and turn people into their zombie-like slaves?

Name

It is to be agreed that a prologue is significant for what it shows in the first few minutes. Reason being that it gives the audience a head start of what the series will continue to be like. In the first eleven minutes of episode one, the audience is introduced with a character, Will, in which the audience is supposed to feel sympathy for; says Scott Kaufman. The different framing shots of what the viewer’s sees of Will’s life are supposed to raise empathy towards his death. However, this is not the main point of the prologue. The significance of this introduction is not to feel sympathy for a certain character, which eventually will be killed or harmed. The highlight is to foreclose the truth of a shocking notice. In this case, Will’s death took part because he had said that he had seen a white walker. In the later scenes Lord Ned’s youngest son, Bran is attempted murder two times because he had seen Lord Robert’s queen have sexual intercourse with her own brother. This clearly shows that the character that has a revealing truth will be harmed or killed in order to keep a betrayal in silence.

Super Bowl

I do not agree that the prologue is mainly focusing on Will’s life and deaf as Scott made this blog seem only focusing on Will and not the other characters or the reason why the prologue was introduced to us this way. The characters are indeed in a journey to find the dead men therefore they can return to the wall and confirm what they had seen and warn the people of the wilderness so they can take precaution. Unfortunately Will is executed but what I think was the main focus in this was that he escaped and got the message across for Eddard to think about. Even though I have not read much from the book and only seen the first episode I feel that maybe the beginning of the episode and the prologue was to tell the readers that the white walkers are the antagonist and that they might for an army and attack the people from the other side of the wall and Will did his part returning to the wall but his betrayal caused him his life.

Scooby-Doo

I disagree that the deep focus is the only thing making the audience uncomfortable in the second establishing shot. Besides having everything be in focus and not providing us with anything of much importance, Van Patten also makes sure that the three men on horseback are off center. This not only makes the audience uncomfortable because there is a tree right in the middle rather than the people, but it adds onto what the deep focus is doing by placing more attention on the tree in the middle of the screen and implying that there is more to the shot. In addition, later in the prologue scene when Van Patten zooms in on Will's face, rather than to provide the audience with a thinking zoom, Van Patten is attempting to evoke more discomfort among the audience as he goes from a medium close-up of Will that is nicely centered, to an extreme close-up in which he not only cuts off Will's chin, but also makes sure that his face is completely off center.

easypeasy

The zoom from a medium close-up to a close-up or the "thinking zoom" with the elevated level of framing on Will to show that he thinks that there is something suspicious about the trees does not necessarily verify his suspicions. I rather believe that the shot was purposely thrown off-balance to keep the audience on their toes. As the camera zooms it seems like it isn't zooming into Will, it seems like it is slightly zooming into the upper left corner of the screen. However there is nothing behind WIll but trees. The point in this is to draw our attention into things that we can't necessarily see, but we can sense. It is like a warning of some sort that something is going to come up out of the blue. It foreshadows a sort of unexpected attack that comes from behind, an event that we as the audience are not prepared for. Well as the scene continues on it actually turns out that there are a bunch of dismembered body parts and heads on stakes near the source of the smoke or mist. So it was a surprising event for the audience that they have already been engulfed by images of death and brutality less than 3 minutes into the show. The zoom into a close-up had less to do with what Will was thinking and what was going on with him and functioned more as a type of warning for the audience. It was odd that the camera zoomed into an area of nothing rather than the subject of the shot. The shot warned us both about an impeding danger and to tell us to pay more attention to our surroundings. As shown by the body parts lying around the fire which people mistaken for rocks at first glance.

Hot Pocket

In the shot where Will scans the area over the snow mound, the eye line match does show him looking only left and right instead of the whole scene. I think Van Patten does this more for the audience. He wants us to wonder in suspense as he elongates the scene of Will seeing the severed bodies. Will probably did see the whole massacre scene, but the director makes these cuts and eye line matches in order to create a surprise factor in the prologue. He sets us up by playing several shots of trees and Will's ominous eyes, then cuts to a shot of a head on a spike. Adding quick surprises to the prologue makes the story immediately intense. The prologue is certainly not "excessive." Not only introducing us to the danger to come later on, the prologue also prepares us for the deaths of well-liked characters.

Will did run just to run to another death, but I don't think that's the only reason. He comes back and warns people about the White Walkers. It's a brilliant transition to introducing the actual "main" characters to us. Although Will did not live long enough to be in the story later, his role of finding the White Walkers is quite important.

Stan

I do not agree that high-key lightning and deep focus suggest that we should have been able to see something that was not there. The use of the high-key lightning and deep focus in this situation is meant to create the ambience of danger and horror, which might not exist substantially, but a great approach to maintain the nervous atmosphere. Since we all know that the duty of Night’s Watch is extremely dangerous that they have to fight against other species, but high-key lightning and deep focus make us believe something abnormal is coming. Also, I disagree that the purpose of the prologue is to create the sympathetic portrayal of Will contrary to the characters in Winterfell. Though Will is the main character appearing in the scenes of the prologue, his identity is so low and mean that does not affect the further development of the plots. The director pays much attention to focus on describing Will, because he wants to show the latent and terrific danger outside the wall. Since Will, as an experienced Night’s Watch, could detect something abnormal for several times in the forests, this implies that the huge disaster is coming soon. So, I think the prologue is used to predict the danger but also gives a connection to Winterfell for further development of the plot.

Need not to know

In the first shot, it is exactly an extreme long shot, which shows the huge scale of the wall by comparing the small human and the wall. However, I do not agree with that Van Patten informs us that these small men are in peril through this shot. This shot just indicates the environment those men stay, and it just introduces the background of the story. I think the goal that Van Patten shows human as some black dots on horseback in this shot is to show how small human is. Human is small compared with the background, while it does not mean these human are vulnerable. They may get in peril, but we can not say they will get a bad ending only through this shot, because human are powerful in the world. Also, this shot may be an hint of how these men change through this adventure, and how human overcome the obstacle.

Goku

I wouldn’t say that the head upon a stake is an extreme close up. Instead I’d say it’s a close up rather than an extreme close up for we can see the stake as well with the background exposed a little more than a traditional extreme close-up. Also I’d like to point out that a zoom from the long-shot of the smoke to the head upon a stake doesn’t occur. Actually, Van Patten cuts from the long shot of the smoke to Will and as Will looks to his right Van Patten then cuts to a close up of the head upon a stake. The point of view is not the equivalent of a thinking zoom, for an example of a thinking zoom would be when Will gets off his horse and stares into the trees where the smoke is coming out and Van Patten zooms in to a close up of Will’s head thinking what could be over there. The point of view would be when Van Patten cuts from a close up of Will to the trees making an eyeline match of where he is looking at, given the audience the impression that he is looking towards the trees and noticing the smoke.

Ms. Elliot

Will isn’t the Prologue’s narrator. It’s more of a third person perspective of what’s happening. That extreme long shot of the Wall and the riders appearing as small dots compared to it, says nothing about Will. It just shows how immense the wall is and how long it is. He doesn’t appear to be a man of great power but he does have a greater common sense than Ser Royce. The contrast between the blue and white snow and the black clothes the riders are wearing gives away nothing. It doesn’t give you a sense that Will is in peril. It’s just the color the guards have to wear. And we didn’t know exactly what was waiting for them in the woods until we got to the campfire scene. The deep focus on Will behind the tree gives the importance only on him and nothing else. The feeling that he’s being watched doesn’t come from deep focus and high key lighting but from the perspective from which the camera is at. Because if it was just a deep focus, from not behind a tree, the camera is just trying to establish were the riders are compared to trees. The portrayal of Will isn’t for sympathy; we are more confused than sympathetic. I didn’t feel bad for Will. I was more interested in what had killed all those people, Royce and Gared. The prologue of a story is meant to attract the attention of the reader so he or she doesn’t put down the book before they have actually started reading it

The Introvert

Although your idea of Van Patten’s use of Will to help exemplify how the novel is structured, I would have to disagree with it. I do believe that Van Patten uses Will to help convey the novel’s overall structure; however, I believe that the other two characters Ser Waymar Royce and Gared, which you Scott seemed to have left out, also help play equally significant roles in conveying the novel’s structure.

We are introduced to a party of three in the Prologue, containing Will, Gared, and Ser Waymar Royce. Ser Waymar Royce, a lord, acts ignorant and wants to continue with their mission while Will and Gared try to persuade him to head back as danger approaches. This exemplifies the ignorance of some the lords in the story, especially later with King Robert who seems to be unaware of the looming danger that is occurring in his kingdom. Also it shows how arrogant the lords and nobility can be and how that eventually leads to their downfall. Ser Waymar Royce, who told the group that they’re continuing the mission later, dies due to his foolish mistake of not turning back when he had the choice. This shows that many of the characters in the novel will also make choices which will have a backlash effect.

In addition, Gared helps show the novel’s structure since many of the characters are like him. Gared is the most experienced member of the group but his knowledge is being eclipsed due to the pompous Ser Waymar Royce who thinks he’s better than him. This is an example of characters not being able to fulfill their potential due to certain circumstances. This is later seen in John Snow, Ned Stark’s bastard, and Tyrion Lannister, the dwarf.

In conclusion, Will was not the only character who helped convey the novel’s structure in the Prologue but it was the other two, Ser Waymar Royce and Gared, who helped convey it. So by overlooking the importance of the other characters show in the Prologue would be wrong since they are all of equal importance in showing the novel’s structure.

Rennnnnndang Baladooooooo

The “very long shot” mentioned in the establishing shot with the riders in the forest is actually a very longshot because the riders are very tiny. In the scene with the mist, the shot is not as highly structured as described. The two trees are not actually in the center vertical axis, but on the vertical axis of the right side of the shot. Also, the lone tree in the center of the shot ruins the symmetry that could have been had it been on the left. The close-up of the head on a stake is actually a medium close-up. An extreme close-up would have been much, much closer, preventing us from having a full view of the head and closing in on a certain spot most likely to accent a certain feature of the head such as its eyes or mouth. The least horrifying shot would not be the shot with the White Walker because its expression is clearly meant to elicit fear in the audience. Its open mouth makes it more intimidating and its eyes clearly show that it is supernatural. These combined show that it is a threat to the main characters. Van Patten creates this sympathetic portrayal of Will not to distinguish the perspectives of the characters in Winterfell, but to give the audience an example of the horrors outside of the wall and further his world building. He is world building by showing that there are supernatural creatures within the Game of Thrones universe. Also, he creates this portrayal of Will to demonstrate the brutality of Winterfell – beheading a man for running away from a certain death.

FEBRUARY

I disagree on how you explained the extreme long shot of the wall and Will. By just looking at that shot, you definitely can tell the wall is overly huge than Will. But, this isn't because it's Will that is in the shot. Whoever goes near by the wall will appear small since the wall is naturally huge. Even a person who is strong in both appearance and personality, that person will look like a small person beholden to power if he/she is near the wall. As described, the shot is an extreme long shot. You can't really tell which one is Will and how are you going to assume that he is a small man beholden to power? I also don't get the point where you talk about a person who is not peril builds and lives behind a wall like that. It's an extreme cold winter and I doubt anyone who is not peril will live behind that wall and to build that kind of wall, it would take years. It doesn't take a person with courage to build the wall. It takes workers. Since the background is white covered in snow, the black riders and Will are easy to catch a eye on but that doesn't mean that he will meet a sad end. You, Scott can say that because you already have seen more episodes and read the whole book. I think it was too much and overly thought of a single shot.

Im

I do not think that establishing shot of the wall is to Will, is in peril. In this long shot, we cannot identify who is who. We cannot tell who is Will, Gared, or Ser Royce. This scene rather shows that these three men have somewhere they can go back. From the book, they begin in the middle of the forest where either they or audiences cannot identify where they can go back. Also, brightness of the background gives us the feeling of safety rather than the book. As different as TV series, the book starts with dark background to emphasize the emotion of death. However, Van Patten starts prologue with safe wall and daylight rather than starting the story during the night.

Shawbobby

Foremost, I disagree that the 11 minutes of the prologue was excessive. Directors make each and every decision through careful planning and contemplation. Each minute, no second, is valuable and a director would not waste 11 minutes on something that is invaluable. The idea of a prologue is to set the stage for the rest of the book or series. Through world building we are gaining an idea of the setting for the rest of the series. Also through the actions and dialogue of the characters we begin to develop a sense of the society in which the people come from, and their values. The prologue has told is that we are in a place where there are unsafe beings, there are extremely cold or warm climates, deserters will be punished, class and birth status are important, and there is a huge wall protected by men in black. By closely reading the decisions of the director there is much additional information to be gathered. Also in the scheme of things 11 minutes is only a minute fraction of the hours and hours of run time the show will have. So if 11 minutes was spent wisely to set the stage for the rest of the series, I do not think it was excessive.
In addition, another disagreement I have with your opening statements is regarding the contrast between the blue-white snow and the black dots (riders). This contrast in no way suggests that Will is in danger or in peril. The director likes to assume that a good portion of the audience has read the novels. If we have read the books we know that the nights watch is always wearing all black, and common sense tells us that the natural color for snow is white. Therefore, there is no special underlying meaning suggesting Will is going to die simply because of his outfit and the weather.
Also I do not know why Will deserts the nights watch. Yes he just saw his friends killed by white walkers but he didn't have to run to another certain death. Couldn't he have run back to the wall and reported what he witnessed.

C. Nile DeMencha

The director Tim Van Patten definitely does not follow George R.R. Martin’s prologue! The novel begins in the middle of the little party’s journey and the TV series begins at the very beginning, before they even leave the wall. Whereas the novel describes the current setting as “getting dark” the setting in the series it takes place during the day the entire prologue. The end of Will’s journey also ends very differently in the different Prologues. In the novel, it’s a bit ambiguous but we can assume that he dies at the hand of the Night Walkers after Royce is killed. In the TV series, Will runs for like… a year and passed the Wall and gets caught by Winterfell’s guards and Eddard Stark executes him.
I definitely don’t agree that Van Patten informs us that Will has the powers to build a wall. No where in there does the Prologue show us how mighty and powerful Will is. If anything, Royce is the one that was high and mighty and Gared and Will are just annoyed at him but does as he instructs them to do. No where in the Prologue does it even say or show who builds the Wall. The color of their clothing is also not significant in indicating that they are in danger of anything. The framing and the lighting of the shots and the way that the characters are behaving are definitely more indicative of their current situation than their clothing is. Isn’t it also reasonable that they’re wearing black because they’re in a very snowy and cold place and dark colors tend to absorb more heat than light colors? I think the shot is there to show the barren land that they are about to head into, that there isn’t any immediate danger to them at this time.

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