As the show’s budget has increased over the years, it has had bigger and better battle sequences. It’s almost amusing to think back to Season 1 where the big battles always happened off screen, and now they’re the centerpieces for entire seasons. But the show has been building to one battle in particular, where everyone must band together and fight the Army of the Dead. And EW has the details on what went into making that battle:
Last April a crew member revealed that Game of Thrones had wrapped 55 night shoots while filming a battle. Media outlets around the world ran stories saying the final season’s battle took twice as long as the 25-day shoot for season 6’s climactic Battle of the Bastards. This wildly understated what really happened. The 55 nights were only for the battle’s outdoor scenes at the Winterfell set. Filming then moved into the studio, where Sapochnik continued shooting the same battle for weeks after that.
“It’s brutal,” Dinklage says. “It makes the Battle of the Bastards look like a theme park.”
EW says that the confrontation will have the most sustained action sequence ever made for a movie or TV show, and that the episode will have wall-to-wall action helmed by “Hardhome” and “Battle of the Bastards” director Miguel Sapochnik.
But if you’re worried about battle fatigue, fear not. The battle will move around between different storylines as the Army of the Dead fights at Winterfell:
The battle doesn’t have just one focus, either, but rather intercuts between multiple characters involved in their own survival storylines that each feels like its own genre. “Having the largest battle doesn’t sound very exciting — it actually sounds pretty boring,” Benioff says. “Part of our challenge, and really, Miguel’s challenge, is how to keep that compelling… we’ve been building toward this since the very beginning, it’s the living against the dead, and you can’t do that in a 12-minute sequence.”
To help pull it off, the production hugely expanded its set for the Stark ancestral home of Winterfell, adding a towering castle exterior, a larger courtyard, and more interconnected rooms and ramparts. Strolling around the new Winterfell is like wandering a sprawling, immersive medieval resort compared with its previous Days Inn-like scale. The ground is covered with snow and blood. The air is thick with smoke from the fire pits. You can turn any direction and only see more Winterfell. It’s easy to feel like you’ve somehow wandered into Westeros.
The battle sequences in Game of Thrones have always been fairly impressive, but as someone who loves “Hardhome”, which is not only brutal, but also terrifying in seeing how the Army of the Dead operates, this should be a rousing finish for the acclaimed HBO series.
Game of Thrones returns in 2019.