Game of Thrones is bracing for its most epic melee yet.
With the Night King and his army of the dead descending upon the North, the Starks, backed by an army of neighboring families and Daenerys Targaryen's (Emilia Clarke) impressive arsenal of soldiers and dragons, face one hell of a fight for survival. It took 11 weeks of arduous night shoots to complete filming on the Battle of Winterfell and, according to Entertainment Weekly, the result of that herculean effort is more than an hour's worth of non-stop action.
Miguel Sapochnik directed Sunday's Game of Thrones episode, which boasts a whopping one hour and 22-minute runtime. Sapochnik is no stranger these action-heavy installments, having helmed hard-hitting episodes like "Battle of the Bastards," and "The Winds of Winter." In an interview with EW, he opened up about finding inspiration for the lengthy sequence in Peter Jackson's visceral Battle of Helm's Deep in The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers and revealed his desire for the action to last no longer than 60 minutes.
"It feels for me at some point you exhaust an audience," he said. "For my reference point, I watched [The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers] because the siege is a 40-minute sequence, but it's actually three different battles in three different places intercut. That was the biggest thing I could think of that was contemporary. I was trying to get a sense of when do you tire out. I think we're going to blow past that."
But don't expect to see an onslaught of bodies dropping left and right throughout the hour. Sapochnik said the battle will ebb and flow so that audiences aren't too exhausted before the fighting lets up.
"It feels like the only way to really approach it properly is to take every sequence and ask yourself: 'Why would I care to keep watching?' One thing I found is the less action — the less fighting — you can have in a sequence, the better. We also switch genres. There's suspense and horror and action and drama and we're not stuck in killing upon killing because then everybody gets desensitized and it doesn't mean anything," he explained.
Read the full interview at EW. Game of Thrones airs on Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.