We've seen massive battles on Game of Thrones before, from the clash at Blackwater to the Battle of the Bastards to fights for survival beyond the Wall. Season 8 is coming, though, and the show's creators are promising something bigger than anything we've ever seen before.
Earlier this year, it was reported the Game of Thrones crew undertook 55 night shoots to film a single sequence for the upcoming final season, signalling an ambitious attempt to make something truly epic. While that does indeed sound like an epic effort, though, it turns out those 55 nights were only part of the story.
In a new feature at Entertainment Weekly on the production of the final season, the show's creators reveal that the 55 night shoots were just a portion of an even larger sequence that the crew then continued to shoot on soundstages for several weeks after those nights were over. The ultimate goal: To produce an unprecedented, episode-long battle sequence laced with individual narratives that will top every other clash in the show's history, and perhaps in all of television.
“It’s brutal,” star Peter Dinklage said. “It makes the Battle of the Bastards look like a theme park.”
To achieve this feat — which is, it should be obvious, a clash between our Westerosi heroes and the encroaching Army of the Dead — creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss turned to Miguel Sapochnik, who previously directed "Battle of the Bastards." They also expanded their existing Winterfell sets, adding more exterior ramparts and towers to create something more like a real fortress that dominates the landscape, and not just the facade of one. It's not all about scope, though. One of the reasons the sequence took so long was not just the size, but the need to keep everything rooted in the characters.
“Having the largest battle doesn’t sound very exciting — it actually sounds pretty boring,” Benioff said. “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.”
So when Game of Thrones returns next year, prepare yourself for the ultimate battle, and for the certainity that not everyone will survive.