“Hardhome”, the latest instalment of Game of Thrones, was rather intense (spoiler warning), especially considering the slower pace of the episodes that came before it. What will stick with most is Hardhome’s final sequence, which understandably had a lot of work put into it by the writer, director and particularly the set builders. Spoilers for the TV show from this point onwards!
Over on the official Game of Thrones YouTube channel, you’ll find a making-of video for Hardhome, which goes into detail on how the end scene was shot. As writer David Benioff explains, they didn’t have much to work with from the books:
“Hardhome was mentioned in the books — we know that something terrible happened there, but we don’t know what happened. So this was an opportunity to show the audience something that’s going to be fresh for everyone, whether you’re a book reader or not.”
Game of Thrones manages to have a good balance of computer-generated and real special effects and Hardhome is no exception. The giant palisade was purpose-built and ended up being 91.5m long by 5.5m high. Even the actors commented on how excellent it would make the end result.
From Ben Crompton, who plays Dolorous Edd of the Night’s Watch:
It’s great when you’ve got a set which you can sort of “play in” as well. And it’s so big, you think “this is going to look great”.
Writer DB Weiss mentions that the scene was “a lot bigger” than what was eventually created, but director Miguel Sapochnik convinced them to pull it back behind the wall and not immediately reveal the undead army. The idea was to turn it from a massive fight into what it was — a terrifying massacre:
You’ve got the army of the dead coming and the wildlings putting up resistance for as long as they can, so it doesn’t have the feel of a battle so much as a horror movie sequence.
Check out the full video for all the behind-the-scenes details, including how everyone embraced the chaos of the sequence — even the extras.