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15 Fascinating Facts About The "Battle Of The Bastards"

There was a lot less CGI than you'd think!

Game of Thrones has released a behind-the-scenes video of the "Battle of the Bastards," and it's full of interesting facts.

View this video on YouTube

Here's what we've learned...

1. That was an actual wall of cavalry charging at Kit Harington (Jon Snow), not CGI.


Production used 40 horses to film that shot, and they actually charged straight at Harington, stopping at the last second. "We're a bit annoyed because I think everyone's going to think it was CGI," Harington said, "but it wasn't."

2. The horse master, Camilla Naprous, says this was the most responsibility she's ever had on set with 80 horses total.

HBO / Via

Camilla had been bugging the showrunners and asking for more responsibility, as most of the horse work in recent seasons had just been people "trotting around." She definitely got her wish with this episode.

3. Even the big clash used actual actors and horses charging past Jon Snow.


For that first big wave of cavalry, production shot about a dozen horses charging at each other and pulling up at the very last minute to make the clash look as real as possible. The rest was filled in with CGI and layering.

4. A "Russian arm" setup — a remote-controlled camera on a long rig attached to a moving car — was used to film Jon Snow's charge to rescue Rickon.

HBO / Via

They used a Land Rover, in part because the terrain got muddy and uneven very quickly.

5. The production design team had to dress every single one of the fake human and horse corpses in the proper house sigils and armor.

HBO / Via

Production designer Deborah Riley noted that each individual prop body was dressed according to which house they belonged to before being added to the pile. According to Riley, that level of detail made the sight of the piles "deeply moving" despite knowing that the corpses were fake.

6. Those piles of corpses were inspired by accounts of medieval and even American Civil War battles.


David Benioff said the scene was influenced by accounts of both ancient and more modern battles in which, according to accounts, corpses were piled so high that they "became an obstruction on the battlefield."

7. The Battle of Agincourt was one of the battles that influenced the Battle of the Bastards' tactics and staging.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, director Miguel Sapochnik mentioned the Battle of Agincourt and the Battle of Cannae (between the Romans and Hannibal) as influences in coming up with the staging of the battle. Akira Kurosawa's Ran also inspired the big cavalry charge.

8. Iwan Rheon, who plays Ramsay, says he "always wanted to do a scene" with Jon Snow — a role he originally auditioned for.


Rheon auditioned for Viserys Targaryen and Jon Snow, but didn't get either role. So it seems fitting that Ramsay and Jon ended up facing off, doesn't it?

9. They shot that face-beating scene for 10 hours.

HBO / Via

Director Miguel Sapochnik wanted to shoot that scene from every angle possible, so they had Harington throwing punches for hours on end.

10. And the scene where Sansa finally gets her revenge? That's Sophie Turner's favorite Sansa scene in the series.

HBO / Via

She says it's because she loves how Sansa gets to stand up to the man who tortured her and tell him that he won't affect her, but if she's anything like us, it's also because it's super satisfying to watch Ramsay get eaten by ravenous hounds.

11. Even though it was a late-night shoot, they shot Sansa's triumphant walk away from Ramsay "12 or 13 times."


That's according to D.B. Weiss, who says that Sansa's hint of a smile is his "favorite thing she's done on the show," and they wanted to get it just right.

12. Benioff and Weiss joked to Rheon that Ramsay ends up on the Iron Throne before breaking the news of his upcoming death.

Rheon related the story to EW: "They joked, 'Isn’t it great Ramsay ends up on the Iron Throne?' As soon as they said that I said, 'He’s dead isn’t he?'"

13. The shield wall wasn't originally in the script, but was added to save time and money.


Sapochnik explained that originally the Bolton army was going to perform a pincer maneuver using horses (probably much to Tormund's dismay). But you could see too much of the battlefield behind the horses, which meant more extras and set dressing, so instead the production opted for the shield wall, which would completely block the view.

14. That horrifying trampling scene was completely unscripted, and was a last-minute change due to time constraints.


Originally, the production had a different ending for the battle, but with the conditions on the set (there had been many hours of rain, causing the ground to become a muddy, swampy mess), they were forced to come up with a different ending. The result was the smaller-scale and incredibly claustrophobic shots of Jon fighting for air.

15. In all, the shoot took 25 days and used 500 extras, 80 horses, 65 stunt actors, and four different camera crews.


Sapochnik estimates that the average call sheet included about 600 crew members.

And it was all totally worth it.


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