Yesterday's Game of Thrones episode was truly epic. It contained one really spectacular long shot in which the camera—placed in the center of Castle Black's inner ward—rotates, filming the battle carnage around it in one non-stop 360-degree shot. Director Neil Marshall thinks it is his "favorite shot ever."
Talking to Hero Complex, episode director Neil Marshall said how this was a "shot in particular that I'm really, really pleased with."
HC: How do you ensure you're tracking the emotional journey of these characters amid so much action?
NM: All the action in the world doesn't matter if your characters are meaningless. I have to follow the character threads and work on that first and foremost and design the action around those characters and around their stories. There's one shot in particular that I'm really, really pleased with – I think it's my favorite shot ever. In the battle for Castle Black, I wanted to do a 360-degree crane shot of the entire battle going on in the castle, but I thought, "What's the purpose of the shot?" Well, the purpose of the shot ultimately is to link together all the main characters and see where their individual stories are at that moment and see where they are geographically at that moment, so it doesn't just look good, it serves a dramatic and narrative purpose. I'm dealing with five different main characters with five different stories within this one battle sequence and you've got to keep track of it. If you can do it in one shot and the audience gets it as well.
If you are worried about spoilers, I think this is safe to watch even if you didn't see the episode. It doesn't show any main characters getting killed or anything important. It's just a general battle shot showing the action.
Although not as long as True Detective's masterful steadicam shot, the shot in Game of Thrones is amazing on its own right. The enormity of the set and the number of actors performing a precise choreography is extremely complex, yet it feels completely natural and seamless. Kudos to Marshall for pulling this one off, along with the rest of a great episode.
You can watch Game of Thrones in HBO every Sunday.