Game of Thrones’ brutal dragon battle was inspired by a classic Hollywood war movie

Warning: Spoilers for the Game of Thrones episode ‘The Spoils of War’ lie ahead!

The latest episode of Game of Thrones is not one we’ll be forgetting any time soon – not least because it featured some of the most brilliant battle scenes we’ve ever witnessed on a small screen.

And, as it turns out, the incredible clash – which saw the Lannisters and Tarlys take on the Dothraki, Tyrion and Dany (alongside Drogon, of course) – had a big screen inspiration.

Revealing his “chief” cinematic references to The Hollywood Reporter, the episode’s director Matt Shakman explained how he managed to bring such intense moments to life.

Related: Game of Thrones season 7, episode 4 review: ‘The Spoils of War’ is an exhilarating spectacle

As well as looking back on the equally epic ‘Battle of the Bastards’, Shakman studied some huge Hollywood war films – namely Apocalypse Now and Saving Private Ryan.

“I did also turn to other references, primarily Apocalypse Now,” he explained. “I used a lot of [its imagery] as touchstone imagery: the idea of these helicopters flying through the smoke is very similar to Drogon flying through the smoke.

“I also looked at Saving Private Ryan and the opening sequence on the beach, when the men are on fire and Tom Hanks is overwhelmed and the sound drops out.

Related: Game of Thrones: What is the story behind Littlefinger’s Valyrian steel dagger?

“That’s very much what Jaime was like in the middle of the battle as he sees these people carbonised and turned to ash.”

Oh, and let’s not forget the nod to Westerns either. “I looked at Stagecoach,” Matt said. “I wanted that feeling of a Western — this savage attack coming at this more formalised line of men…”

Now please excuse us while we go and rewatch our new favourite Thrones battle scene (sorry, Jon and Ramsay).

Game of Thrones returns next Sunday (August 13) to HBO in the US and airs on Sky Atlantic and Now TV in the UK.

Here’s the trailer for episode five ‘Eastwatch’:

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