Direction and Cinematography in Game of Thrones Season 4, Episode 4 - “Oathkeeper”
What I love about what Game of Thrones director Michelle MacLaren is that she focuses on relationships between the characters. Game of Thrones is a show about relationships, yes, but she focuses on the dynamics between the characters in a way that respects and celebrates the true nature of every relationship that is onscreen. As a result, we see a large number of close ups in dialogue between characters in conjunction with many many short and significant linking shots.
In this example, the simple action of Jaime handing his sword to Brienne is given meaning through the way it is filmed. MacLaren could have had Cinematographer Robert McLachlan simply shoot the action from far away, an understandable decision because it establishes a good on-camera spatial relationship between the two - but that would be a disservice to the significance of the action itself and the dynamic that Jaime and Brienne share.
Instead, we get a close up, with Jaime in the foreground, of the exchange. The camera noticeably lingers on their hands almost touching. Almost.
Through this shot, MacLaren suggests the true nature of their relationship - something that the characters aren’t sure of themselves, and most definitely are not aware of in this moment. Because we don’t see Jaime and Brienne’s faces, we are insiders to this critical piece of character insight that MacLaren wants to share with us. The audience is aware of what Jaime and Brienne have together (I won’t delve too much into that as I’ll go on for hours) and what they want them to have together. MacLaren knows and reaffirms this by filming them this way. It’s as though, by selecting carefully where to look at any one time, she is appreciating this dynamic as much as the audience.
In general, my favorite thing about this scene is that it is muted with only three colours; yellow (gold), blue, and red to draw where your eyes should look.