The Story Behind The Big ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8 Battle

A new interview shines light on the impending battle of Winterfell in the final season of Game of Thrones.
Game Of Thrones Season Weirwood
By  · Published on March 7th, 2019

Winter is almost upon us. With only a month left until the final season of Game of Thrones, the cast and crew discuss the upcoming ambitious battle of Winterfell in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. Led by director Miguel Sapochnik, this event is rumored to be the longest battle sequence in film history.

This interview highlights the grueling process of making the battle of Winterfell. Working with a crew of around 750 people, Sapochnik led them and the cast into the long night. Or in this case, 11 weeks of night shoots. Thanks to the power of modern editing, there could have been ways to avoid this, but Sapochnik refused to take the easy route. He tells Entertainment Weekly the night shoots were necessary because “If we don’t, we’re going to lose what makes Game of Thrones cool and that is that it feels real.”

Sapochnik showed promise as a director for Game of Thrones in season five with ‘Hardhome,’ but it was his work on ‘Battle of the Bastards’ in season six that left his mark on the series. Sapochnik was able to elevate a battle scene from meaningless gore to artistic, violent storytelling. Also, it won him an Emmy, which must have been nice.

Along with his experience with ‘Battle of the Bastards,’ Sapochnik researched other lengthy battle scenes. The only one that came close to his vision was the 40-minute siege at Helm’s Deep from Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers. His main takeaway from that was “the less action-the less fighting-you can have in a sequence, the better.”  At first, that seems wrong, but after a moment it makes sense. As entertaining as it is to see bloody warfare or dragons flambéing the enemy, it can get boring after a while. Sapochnik’s method of limiting the violence might be essential for impending fight, especially if he plans on shattering the record for the longest battle sequence.

Will Sapochnik choose to focus on a single character as he did with Jon Snow during ‘Battle of the Bastards’? If so, one possible option is Arya Stark played by Maisie Williams. In the Entertainment Weekly interview, Williams recalls Sapochnik calling her a year in advance to warn her about how tough this final battle will be. Along with that, the latest trailer features the one face we’ve never seen on the murderous wolf: fear. Winterfell will be the battle that Arya has been training for since Ned had a head, and hopefully not her last.

When going from ‘Hardhome’ to ‘Battle of the Bastards,’ Sapochnik wasn’t thinking about making a better episode than the last. He focused on telling the story at hand. According to an older Entertainment Weekly interview, the director explained his approach to ‘Battle of the Bastards’ was “just make it the best we can.” Sapochnik ignored the pressures from his previous success and created something memorable. Hopefully, he uses this tactic again for the battle of Winterfell and ignores any expectations set by his past battle sequences, press speculation (including this one), or the fans. Our opinions shouldn’t influence his process of creating a battle we’re bound to enjoy.

The exact episode containing this record-breaking battle has yet to be announced, but in true Game of Thrones style, it will probably be when we least expect it. All that’s left to do now is pray to the old gods, the new gods, the Lord of Light, and maybe the dragons that your favorite characters survive the battle of Winterfell.

The final season of Game of Thrones premieres on April 14th on HBO. For more, read One Perfect Shot’s official Breakdown of the Game of Thrones season 8 trailer.

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