The history of Middle-earth on screen is known for its massive combat sequences. Many fans of the original trilogy will remember the colossal Battle of Minas Tirith, the Battle of the Last Alliance, and of course the Siege of Helm’s Deep. The trilogy featured some of the best fight scenes on screen and fans had been looking forward to the first major sequence The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. This wish was granted in episode 6, Udun and It was a decent outing compared to the previous ones.
Crossing swords and brilliant archery has been largely absent from this inaugural season, but when the Moriandur Adar (Joseph Maulle) and his legions of orcs cornered the people of the Southlands in a village, we get our fight scenes. Despite a valiant effort by Arondir (Ismael Cruz Cordova), Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi) and all villagers death seems to come for all of them. Just when they thought it was over, Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) and the Númenórean army charged through the ranks of the orcs, killing and trampling in the process – a scene somewhat reminiscent of the Rohirrim attack on Minas Tirith. Per Variety, Director Charlotte Brandstrom talked about how the director was able to produce this scene with 20-30 horses and a total crew of 150-200 people, even though she wanted more horses. “It was very difficult to get access to training horses to compete in this fight,” she said. “I tricked it by coming from many different directions and reusing the same horses.” Filming at the height of the pandemic, getting more was a problem.
For the actual horse load, Brändström went into the story for research purposes and also consulted the trilogy and other films with epic battle scenes. She explains:
“I studied a lot of Ukrainian Cossacks and how they fought on horseback, hid behind horses and tried to dodge arrows and bullets,” she said. “They were incredible riders. I wanted to do something different when the Númenóreans came to the village to save everyone. We worked on it in New Zealand for months in advance to make sure they were actually on horseback. I knew it was going to be spectacular.”
To compete in the sequence, it took the riders four months of training with Clark, who does not ride, to eventually master the reins and look natural. “A lot of us had never ridden – me anyway – and were quite nervous and scared. I rode a horse named Titan who seems to be one of the greatest horses they’ve ever had and trained the best,” she said. “I feel like my riding skills are largely due to the horse I’m on, but I’m not scared anymore. Once you’re comfortable on a horse, it’s the closest thing to magic I’ve ever experienced. You also have this connection to the people of the past, something that people have always done.”
Udun ends on a small cliffhanger with the eruption of Mount Doom. Brändström strived to make it perfect. “I’ve studied every conceivable volcanic eruption,” Brändström said. “We’ve studied ash plume formations, everything from the Pompeii eruption to what happened in New Zealand a few years ago, in the Canary Islands, in Italy.” That’s meticulous.
The Rings of Power presents new episodes on Prime Video every Friday. Check out the trailer below:
https://collider.com/rings-of-power-charlotte-brandstrom-udun-battle-sequence-comments/ Rings of Power Director on Creating Udun’s Spectacular Battle Sequence