Sunday night’s blockbuster episode of Game of Thrones, the near-feature-length battle royale titled “The Long Night,” brought a decisive end to the so-called Great War between the living and the dead, a showdown the show’s creators spent 55 straight nights committing to film. And while the critical response to the episode has been mixed, with many viewers criticizing its unrelenting (literal) darkness and narrative miscues, there’s no denying the blood, sweat and tears that went into making it a reality.
HBO has highlighted all that leg work in a new “Game Revealed” featurette that goes behind the scenes of the Battle of Winterfell, pulling back the curtain on the herculean efforts made by Emmy-winning director Miguel Sapochnik (of “Hardhome,” “Battle of the Bastards” and “The Winds of Winter” fame) and his production team. The 40-minute video is double the length of this season’s other “Game Revealed” featurettes, a fitting treatment for the series’ biggest battle to date, not to mention its single longest episode.
“The Long Night” Director of Photography Fabian Wagner succinctly sums up the episode’s importance to viewers and challenge to producers in the featurette’s opening moments: “As a fan, I thought, ‘Wow.’ As a DP, I thought, ‘Fuck.’” It’s a sentiment basically everyone else echoes, including Sapochnik, who straight up says, “I never, ever want to do that again. I don’t think anybody who did that ever wants to do it again.” There are segments focused on the episode’s special effects, Arya Stark’s badassery (and, by extension, Maisie Williams’ badassery in bringing the little warrior to life), [redacted]’s heroic death (speaking of little warriors), the crypt-bound creep show and much more.
We can expect plenty more of this kind of behind-the-scenes business in Game of Thrones: The Last Watch, a feature-length making-of documentary coming to HBO on May 26, one week after the series finale airs on May 19.
Watch the featurette below and read Paste’s review of “The Long Night” right here.