Fans of Game of Thrones know that Season 6’s incredible Battle of the Bastards set what seemed like the highest standard of battles fought on TV. Now Season 7 of the HBO show has upped the ante on itself, with Sunday’s episode featuring a new level of incredible feats of strength, choreography, and bloodshed.
The Loot Train featured the terrifying match between the Lannister army and Daenerys Targaryen’s Dothraki army, with Khaleeshi and her dragon Drogon also joining the battle for the first time. In a new behind the scenes featurette from Sunday’s episode, the cast and creators of HBO’s Game of Thrones reveal what went into making a record-breaking battle scene.
Shot in Caceres, Spain, the crew shot with between four and eight cameras and three tracking vehicles to ensure every shot was captured. The crew used an eco-friendly dye to make props look charred and burned, with constant resetting of the scene necessary to show the battle’s movement.
“This battle was the most fire-intensive one we’ve had,” director David Benioff said, with the episode requiring more stuntmen to be burned than ever before. Burning 20 men in one shot means GoT has broken yet another record, this time for having the most burned men in a single shot, a requirement for a show that features dragons who have grown to the size of a 747 plane. Stuntmen were required to hold their breath while they were on fire and maintain a slow heart rate during the intense fire scenes.
As for the explosion of the Lannister’s line of carriages known as the Loot Train, the crew only had one chance at executing the shot, requiring months of preparation and the use of a studio in Madrid to rehearse the perfectly-timed explosion.
To give an idea of the scope of the visual effects required for the episode, Season 6 of Game of Thrones has 11 shots of Emila Clark riding a dragon as Daenerys Targaryen. In Sunday’s episode, there were over 80 shots. The actor shot her CGI scenes in a studio in Belfast, Ireland, saying the dramatic scene required her to use every emotion possible.
As the hand of the queen and the brother of Jamie Lannister, Tyrion Lannister had a front row seat to the battle, one that forced him to split his allegiance and allowed the viewer to live vicariously through him. “It’s a real struggle for him,” said Peter Dinklage, who plays Tyrion. “Every piece of his being is wishing he could intercede, but he can’t. I’m seeing first hand my family lose.”
One of the most impressive scenes from Sunday’s battle was the arrival of the Dothraki on the battleground, with the warriors standing on their horses’ saddles to shoot arrows. In the new featurette, the crew reveal how they made specially crafted stirrups to allow stunt riders to mount their horses in a standing position. “So much of these battle scenes now have become visual effects,” Benioff said. “I hope people realize that much of this is actually being done and stuntmen standing up on horses with bow and arrows, shooting arrows is an impressive thing to see.”