The epic battle at the centre of Game of Thrones Season 8 isn't just going to be the show's biggest; it's going to be the longest in history too.
We've heard various tidbits of the battle over the past year, ever since it was revealed that a 55-night shoot had taken place in Northern Ireland. While much of what goes down is understandably being kept under wraps, a few new details about the battle of living vs the dead have been revealed in EW's cover story, and hoo-boy does it sound exciting. As they report:
"When preparing for the shoot, [Miguel] Sapochnik tried to find a longer battle sequence in cinema history and couldn’t. The closest was the nearly 40-minute Helm’s Deep siege in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, which he studied to determine when the audience would get 'battle fatigue' from too much hacking and slashing. 'It feels like the only way to really approach it properly is take every sequence and ask yourself: ‘Why would I care to keep watching?’” says the British director between takes. “One thing I found is the less action — the less fighting — you can have in a sequence, the better.'"
Yep, that's a consecutive sequence longer than one of the greatest battles in cinema history, which will be happening on TV in just a few weeks. What's particularly great to hear, though, isn't just the technical achievements or the gruelling feats of filming required by the cast and crew, but how Sapochnik is ensuring this stays rooted in character and true to what Game of Thrones is, as he says"
"The [GoT battles] I’ve done previously were generally from Jon’s perspective. Here I’ve got 20-some cast members and everyone would like it to be their scene. That’s complicated because I find the best battle sequences are when you have a strong point of view. I keep thinking: ‘Whose story am I telling right now?’”
EW notes: "Part of Sapochnik’s strategy is asking the actors to fill in the blanks of their storyline of what happens whenever the camera cuts to somebody else. As John Bradley (Samwell Tarly) explains: “We may not have seen Sam for 10 minutes but something has happened to Sam in those 10 minutes — you’ve been fighting, or you’ve been running, or you’ve been hiding. How has your story developed? You have to hold in your mind what’s happened since we saw you last.”
That all sounds rather incredible, and fitting for the final season of TV's biggest show. Sapochnik reveals that he chose not to film the battle in separate chunks, as you would, say, a Marvel or Star Wars movie. Sapochnik reveals he told the producers: "I don’t want to do 11 weeks of night shoots and no one else does. But if we don’t we’re going to lose what makes Game of Thrones cool and that is that it feels real.’”
It's not all just battles in Season 8, however. Another key part of the story is just as exciting, and perhaps even more so, with it being revealed that the episode prior is "play-like" in its intimacy. That's the kind of thing that was largely missing from Season 7, and under the guidance of the returning David Nutter, should be great to witness.
It's all getting extremely close now, and becoming terrifyingly real.
Are you excited for the Battle of Winterfell? Let us know down in the comments.
NCTJ-qualified journalist. Most definitely not a racing driver. Drink too much tea; eat too much peanut butter; watch too much TV. Sadly only the latter paying off so far.
A mix of wise-old man in a young man's body with a child-like wonder about him and a great otherworldly sensibility.