The Battle of Winterfell could have been so different
Much like the people of King’s Landing, shellshocked Game of Thrones fans are still trying to come to terms with the fact that the show has ended and just like Benioff and Weiss predicted, the finale divided opinions.
While the final season definitely had issues with pacing, writing, and character development, there’s no denying the superb work that the cast and crew have put in throughout the eight seasons and in terms of directors, there’s one name that stands out.
He’s the man that directed The Gift, Hardhome, The Battle of the Bastards, The Winds of Winter, The Long Night, and The Bells.
If there’s a real life Iron Throne, he deserves to take it because his work behind the camera was incredible. In fact, HBO have put him forward to receive an Emmy nomination for his work on The Long Night. Fully deserved.
At present, Sapochnik is currently making a film called BIOS but he took the time to chat with Indiewire about his work on Game of Thrones and if you love the show, it’s an essential listen.
Aside from sharing some incredible anecdotes and details about his time on the show, Sapochnik also discusses his work on Season 8.
In terms of The Long Night – better known as The Battle of Winterfell – the director said that he originally planned to kill Jorah during the scene where the Dothraki charge at the army of the dead.
“I wanted to kill everyone, I wanted to kill Jorah in the horse charge at the beginning. I was up for killing absolutely everyone. I wanted it to be ruthless, so that in the first ten minutes, you say ‘all bets are off and anyone can die’ but David and Dan didn’t want to. There was a lot of back and forth about that. Ultimately, it was because they were saving all that carnage for The Bells.
“It was hard because I couldn’t kill anyone and it had to be interesting. How can we do that? Credit to them, they let me engage early and they let me question and argue with them. A key thing is that it’s not my show. I didn’t make it. I’m a hired director and they have let me in and I loved doing that, but final cut is not mine, it’s theirs,”he said.
With regards to the Night King’s involvement during The Long Night, Sapochnik said that the leader of the White Walkers originally had a larger role to play.
As you will remember, the Night king perished when Arya stabbed him with a Valyrian steel blade.
During a more detailed conversation about the quickening pace of the final two seasons, the director said: “even within The Long Night, there was an extended battle sequence where you saw the Night King fight, very long. There was a whole bunch of stuff that was going to happen but when we got there – not shooting but in the process of prep – we started to prioritise what was important. At the end of an 80 minute battle, do I really care if the Night King has got some fancy moves with his spear? Do I really give a shit about that?
“What I care about is this moment – which for me, I really enjoyed doing and watching – which was when Bran, Theon, and the Night King stand in this fairytale and nightmarish landscape. That’s got more punch to me than the Night King doing some fancy staff moves. I think that David and Dan look at it from that perspective and my equivalent of that is that at the end of an 80 minute episode, I had to choose and I realised that I cared more about the Night King engaging with Bran as a character than I did having him fight.”
You can listen to the whole interview here.