Movies & TV

Game of Thrones Director Pushed for a Shocking Massacre at the Battle of Winterfell

Miguel Sapochnik also says he was strictly "visually policed" by showrunners
IMAGE HBO
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Now that the dust's settled on the final season of Game of Thrones and it's more clear than ever that that daft petition about remaking it isn't going to have any effect, we can admit that season eight was actually fine. Come on, it was. All things considered, it was alright.

However, longtime director Miguel Sapochnik has hinted that he had a much more classically Thrones-y idea to turn the Battle of Winterfell into the cataclysmic event many fans wanted it to be, and was "visually policed" by showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss while trying to direct.

Keen to avoid having the mid-season peak turn into "a remix of every battle we’d ever done", Sapochnik pushed for a properly shocking moment early on to set out the episode's stall in the time-honoured Thrones manner.

"I wanted to kill everyone," he remembered on IndieWire's Filmmaker's Toolkit podcast. "I wanted to kill Jorah in the horse charge at the beginning. I wanted it to be ruthless, so in the first 10 minutes you could say all bets are off, anyone could die. But David and Dan didn’t want to. There was a lot of back-and-forth on that."

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That back-and-forth gradually into just a forth, as Sapochnik conceded defeat. "There comes a point when they dig in and you just don’t want to be there," he said.

This wasn't the first time Sapochnik had come up against resistance from Benioff and Weiss with one of his ideas. Way back in season five, he shot a couple of sequences which incurred the showrunners' wrath: a scene between Cersei and Tommen shot through some prison-style bars to gesture at the idea that the young, dewey-eyed king was trapped by power and would've probably been happier joining a monastery; and Maester Aemon's death scene, which was set up to nod at his funeral pyre. Benioff and Weiss weren't impressed with this display of cineaste floridity.

"[Benioff and Weiss] said [it was] 'so self-conscious and we hate it', basically," Sapochnik said. "I was visually policed for the first three months of my shoot and it made the creation of 'Hardhome' really difficult because I pissed them off."

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This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk.

* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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