Readers of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire know viewers of HBO’s Game of Thrones can expect the series to really kick it into high gear in Season 5. But as it turns out, the network may have issue filming one scene thanks to church intervention. Read on for more, plus what an HBO exec had to say about the controversial sept scene from Season 4.
[SPOILERS FOR SEASON 5 OF GAME OF THRONES]
TMZ, of all places, (and no, I wouldn’t recommend clicking over) is reporting on a story out of Dubrovnik, Croatia. The focus is on an upcoming scene from Season 5 of Game of Thrones in which Lena Headey’s Cersei takes an utter fall from grace and is imprisoned by, coincidentally enough, the Faith for planning the murder of the High Septon. Several other crimes come out along the way, including incestuious relationship with her cousin, and before she goes on trial, is forced to do a penance walk.
Headey has spoken about the scene previously, which in the books involves the character’s head being shaved and walking naked through King’s Landing. She said, “I’ve been very adamant about keeping her kind of clothed because I think that’s part of her power. And she can still be sort of sexual and weird and female, but she doesn’t have to be naked. And I think it makes for a more shocking disempowering moment when this happens. So, we’ll see. I’m a little scared.”
But here’s what TMZ reported on the proposed scene:
The scene is supposed to be shot in Dubrovnik, Croatia, where the church has a lot of power and a rigid policy against public displays of sexuality.
We’re told the local film commission will not give producers a permit to shoot the scene because they take their cue from the church — in this case the Church of St. Nicholas.
Sources tell TMZ … they can’t cut the scene because it’s crucial to the story line and it’s an iconic moment from the book.
So far … producers haven’t figured out a workaround … and Hail Marys probably won’t do the trick.
A workaround doesn’t seem too difficult—I’m assuming they could just film this on a set elsewhere (which would probably make life easier for Headey). But regardless, it’s interesting to see the show, which has never shied away from violence, sexual or otherwise, hit a roadblock here.
For his part, HBO president of programming, Michael Lombardo spoke about the violence on the show at the Edinburgh International Television Festival recently. Specifically touching upon the controversy over the Cersei/Jaime rape scene from Season 4:
I personally don’t see myself as a libertine. I don’t think [graphic scenes] have ever been without any purpose. Dan [Weiss] and Dave [Benioff] are two very sober, thoughtful men. They have books as a map. Which involve wars, violence, sex. We have certainly not given them an edict or a note that they need to tone down the sexual content in the show.
I appreciate there was some controversy and it generated a conversation about what consensual sex is and isn’t…People responsible for programming have two responsibilities: To be responsible, not to have sex and violence that’s gratuitous. That is certainly not who we are. At the same time we don’t want to be a censor that inhibits the authentic organic creative process by policing how many breasts should be on a show.
It is an adult service. Our subscribers pay a fee for uncensored shows. My job is to be in business with responsible creative forces. And if I am doing that I trust their decisions about what is appropriate for the character or not. And I feel we made the right choice with Dan and Dave and they continue to try to be responsible. As long as I feel that [violence] isn’t the reason [people] are watching the show, that it isn’t a show trying to attract viewers with sex and violence, I am not going to play police.
“People responsible for programming have two responsibilities: To be responsible, not to have sex and violence that’s gratuitous. That is certainly not who we are.” I think True Blood and well, almost every other HBO series contradicts this quote but OK.
We did a large discussion of the scene and what it means for viewers and the show, while Headey herself and the writer and director of the episode as well as Martin gave their thoughts. After that, I know many viewers have lost their trust in the creative team to “be responsible” and many assume the Cersei scene, although in the novels, will lead it down an even darker and more dangerous path. Both for the precedence it will set and the message it will send.
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