No offence, George RR Martin but Shakespeare is even more famous than you are. Yet on screen the two writers’ work looks a lot more similar than it might have done on paper (or parchment, in the Bard’s case.)
The first-look at the new Macbeth adaptation, starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, looks and feels just like a Game of Thrones episode.
Like the epic, momentous events of Westeros, Macbeth is heart-wrenching and full of fatalistic plot twists that poison not just the Scottish King’s own personal world but the whole country and its people. Ultimately both stories are about politics, power, murder and a lot of injustice.
And at first glance, the film – made by Australian film-maker Justin Kurzel – appears to really bring out those elements. Like in Game of Thrones, the focus is on the battlefield, and the fury and glory of war. It’s all about how once blood is spilt, there’s no way back, because revenge will always be sought – an ethos that drives the wars and family feuds of Westeros, too.
The weird women also feel very Game of Thrones. They have been interpreted in many different ways throughout centuries of Macbeth adaptations – as ordinary people, nurses, children – but here they are creepy, supernatural spirits who have an air of the Undead about them, like White Walkers coming to destroy Macbeth’s world…
Other versions have modernised Macbeth’s setting, placing it on a London council estate or in a New York mafia struggle, but this film takes place in the 11th century where Shakespeare originally set his play, so the clothes and scenery are a lot like those in the world of Westeros, which we know is a fictional world reflecting parts of medieval society.
So much literature around the globe has been inspired by Shakespeare’s universal tales of humanity, so it’s no surprise that George RR Martin might have been thinking about some of the Bard’s villains and kings as he wrote his epic fantasy A Song of Ice and Fire.
But it’s exciting that this film looks set to focus on Macbeth’s bloody, terrifying struggle for power and how that will affect generations to come – the very thing that keeps us hooked on Game of Thrones.