June 19, 2016: Game of Thrones Delivers Greatest Battle Scene in Television History!

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A Brief History

On June 19, 2016, millions of viewers witnessed perhaps the greatest scripted battle scene in television history as Game of Thrones‘s epic “Battle of the Bastards” more than lived up to its hype!

Digging Deeper

With the episode quickly declared the best in the series history, the extended battle sequence was a highlight in an action-packed, visually-stunning episode that also included a fiery naval bombardment and, oh yea, dragons!

Filming the titular “Battle of the Bastards” was what one would typically expect from a major Hollywood cinematic production.  Filming lasted for some 25 shooting days and included the use of some 500 extras, 600 crew members and 70 horses, at a cost of perhaps more than $10 million to produce a 60 minute episode, one of the longest of the six season series.

The Medieval style battle drew its inspiration from battles that actually occurred in our own history (minus the giant, of course…).  The director of the episode, Miguel Sapochnik, said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that the Battle of Agincourt (1415) was the original inspiration for the battle, but the concept was changed to better fit the budgetary constraints.  Instead, in the “Inside the Episode” segment published by HBO shortly after the airing of the episode, series co-creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss said that the Battle of Cannae (216 BC) and the American Civil War (1861-1865) were their two main inspirations.  As Weiss explained, “We went back to the Roman fight against the Carthaginians in the Battle of Cannae where the Romans got caught in an encirclement by Hannibal and just slaughtered to the man.  We used that as our model.”  Benioff added, “The ‘Battle of the Bastards’ becomes incredibly compact.  All these men, all these combatants, crammed into this incredibly tight space on the battlefield.  You read accounts of the battles in the Civil War where the battles were piled so thick it was actually an obstruction on the battlefield.”

What do you think was the greatest battle depicted in a television drama series?  Please let us know in the comments below!

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About Author

Dr. Zar

Dr. Zar graduated with a B.A. in French and history, a Master’s in History, and a Ph.D. in History. He currently teaches history in Ohio.