Director Jeremy Podeswa confirmed that creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have reconsidered how rape is depicted after viewers were left outraged by the brutal rape of Sansa Stark by Ramsay Bolton on her wedding night.
The scene was not depicted in the books upon which the series is based and was widely criticized for playing to shock value and gratuitous violence.
Now Podeswa, who directed the controversial episode, says they plan on dialing it back because of negative viewer response.
"It is important that (the producers) not self-censor," he said during an event in Fox Studios Australia. "The show depicts a brutal world where horrible things happen. They did not want to be too overly influenced by that (criticism) but they did absorb and take it in and it did influence them in a way," he said, adding that the creators "were responsive to the discussion and there were a couple of things that changed as a result."
"It was a difficult and brutal scene and we knew it was going to be challenging for the audience," he explained. "But it was very important to us in the execution that it would not be exploited in any way. To be fair, the criticism was the notion of it, not the execution. It was handled as sensitively as it could possibly be; you hardly see anything."
Sansa Stark's rape was not the only one depicted on the show. Viewers also witnessed Jaime Lannister rape his sister Cersei — another scene which did not appear in the books — and Daenerys Targaryen raped by her new husband Khal Drogo.
George RR Martin, author of the Game of Thrones books, has repeatedly defended the show's choice to veer from his original story lines.
"There have been differences between the novels and the television show since the first episode of season one," he wrote on his blog after the Sansa Stark rape scene aired. "And for just as long, I have been talking about the butterfly effect. There has seldom been any TV series as faithful to its source material, by and large (if you doubt that, talk to the Harry Dresden fans, or readers of the Sookie Stackhouse novels, or the fans of the original Walking Dead comic books)... but the longer the show goes on, the bigger the butterflies become.
"David and Dan and Bryan and HBO are trying to make the best television series that they can. And over here I am trying to write the best novels that I can. And yes, more and more, they differ. Two roads diverging in the dark of the woods, I suppose... but all of us are still intending that at the end we will arrive at the same place."
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