DVD Review: Get Your Game of Thrones Fix: Season 5 Blu-Ray

Game of ThronesGame of Thrones: The Complete Fifth Season is a great addition to your Blu-Ray collection, nicely packaged with solid bonus features that will please hardcore George R.R. Martin fans as well as viewers familiar only with the HBO series. The four-disc set includes all ten episodes of the season, which won a record twelve Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Drama Series.

Five years into the series, Game of Thrones’ complex storytelling defies quick synopsis. Throughout the season, Danaerys Targaryen struggles to lead Meereen and subdue the insurgent Sons of the Harpy, finally crossing paths with Tyrion Lannister. Meanwhile, Cersei Lannister also struggles to retain power in King’s Landing, but she underestimates the power of the High Sparrow. Littlefinger weds Sansa Stark to Ramsay Bolton, the worst sadist in all of Westeros, and Stannis’ devotion to the Lord of Light costs him everything. At the Wall, Jon Snow is elected Lord Commander of the Night's Watch and forms an alliance with the Wildlings, with disastrous results.

Game of ThronesWhile audio commentaries are de rigueur nowadays, HBO has made sure to include all of GoT’s biggest names including Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jamie Lannister), Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister), Natalie Dormel (Margaery Tyrell), Kit Harington (Jon Snow), Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister Baratheon), Maisie Williams (Arya Stark), and showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. Each episode includes an interactive in-episode guide that recaps the characters, locations and histories of each scene with just the click of an icon. Wondering why that angry young Sparrow looks so familiar? Just click for a quick summary of Lancel Lannister’s sordid past.

Once you’ve finished binge-watching season five, the four-disc set offers four deleted scenes and a half-dozen bonus features, each carefully crafted to please devoted viewers and newbies alike.  Together they offer a rich look into the TV production, the source material and real-life inspiration behind the characters.  

A Day in the Life shows viewers what it takes to film an episode of Game of Thrones. The 25-minute feature invites us to spend a single day with the massive production, which in season five included three units shooting simultaneously in three countries. The high point is a visit with the unit working in Spain, where a crew of more than 450 work behind the camera at the Alcazar, transforming the magnificent 14th century palace into Dorne’s Water Gardens. Fans will also enjoy a look into creating the village at Hardholme, which was built almost from scratch.

In New Characters, New Locations, GoT’s powers that be, including Benioff and Weiss, discuss the new locations featured in season five – Dorne, the Great Sept and the House of Black and White – and what it took to bring them to the screen. At just 7.5 minutes, this feature only scratches the surface but is a nice complement to A Day in the Life.

Anatomy of an Episode: Mother’s Mercy is an excellent behind-the-scenes look at the season finale. Producer Chris Newman walks viewers through all the major moments including Cersei’s walk of shame, Selyse’s suicide, and Stannis’s death at the hands of Brienne.  At 30 minutes, this piece has plenty of time to delve into the details.  One of the most interesting stories is the rebuilding of the Winterfell set, which was greatly expanded for season five.  Fans will also love seeing how crews combined practical effects with CGI to create the Hall of Faces, and of course this feature would not be complete without a look at the murder of Jon Snow.

Game of Thrones: The Complete Fifth Season. Photo courtesy of HBO.The best of the bonus tracks is the two-part Real History Behind Game of Thrones. Most hardcore fans know that George R.R. Martine drew his inspiration for GoT from England’s Wars of the Roses (1450-1485), in which the Lancasters fought the Yorks over several generations for cotnrol of the English throne. But Martin is a real student of history and incorporated influences and ideas from French, English, Scottish and even Native American history as well as from the Huns, the Spartans and the Knights Templar. 

In these two tracks, which total 40 minutes, Martin and a team of historians discuss the true stories and real people reflected in each of his major characters. Particularly interesting are women such as Margaret of Anjou, a queen of England whose will to power and fierce loyalty to her children inspired Queen Cersei. Martin also discusses his favorite historical figures including the boy king Richard II (Joffrey); drinking, whoring Edward IV (Robert Baratheon); and his all-time favorite, alleged hunchback Richard III (Tyrion).

Histories and Lore is not an interview or clip reel. Rather, it’s a series of animated videos that cover the culture, history and mythology of Westeros and Essos. Topics include the seven pointed star, the faith militant, and this history of Varys’s hometown of Volantis.  A must for those who have not yet read the novels.

Finally, The Dance of Dragons is another delightful animation that recounts the sad history of the Targaryens. Narrator Pedro Pascal (Oberyn Martell) and a host of costars recount the sad story of the civil war that destroyed not only the Targaryen dynasty but their dragons, too. Another must for anyone who wants to understand events that preced the TV program.

Latest Articles