The Rings Of Power's Big Battle Scene Took Weeks Of Planning [Exclusive]

It's nothing less than tradition, at this point. When approaching any adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's work, filmmakers can reasonably expect to have at least a few large-scale, ambitious, and technically challenging battle sequences to pull off. Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy is filled with these moments, beginning as early as the prologue scenes depicting (spoiler alert!) the Dark Lord Sauron's defeat against the combined forces of Middle-earth and culminating with "The Return of the King." This continued in "The Hobbit," ultimately reaching its apex (or nadir, depending on how you look at it) in "The Battle of the Five Armies" that essentially depicted a series of unending, loosely connected set pieces throughout most of the runtime.

Prime Video's "The Rings of Power" series lived up to such high expectations in a big way with episode 6, the long-awaited hour that finally pitted the Southlanders and eventually the late-arriving Númenoreans against the villainous Adar (Joseph Mawle) and his orcs. To nobody's surprise, the sheer effort involved in taking what was on the page and actually filming it is enough to make one's head spin. Luckily, /Film's Vanessa Armstrong recently interviewed Alex Disenhof, the director of photography entrusted with defining the look of the action-heavy episode. Of the many fascinating topics discussed during their conversation, perhaps the most intriguing tidbit comes from how much planning went into every aspect of the battle.

Models, maps, and practical sets

"The Lord of the Rings" movies famously pushed the envelope of modern technology at the time, spurring advances in VFX work and modelmaking in order to full flesh out Tolkien's vast world in all its beautiful and spectacular glory. When the crew behind "The Rings of Power" were faced with figuring out how exactly to bring the epic battle in the Southlands to life, the team resorted to plenty of tricks of the trade. As director of photography Alex Disenhof told /Film:

"That's a sequence that took a ton of planning. We had everything from small cardboard models of the village made up to put action figures on to see, 'Okay, these people come from here and the Númenoreans come from here,' and all that. We had overhead maps. Again, same thing, just understanding the bird's eye view layout of the whole environment.
And then it was a lot of just walking in the real village — myself, the director, Charlotte Brändström, Vic Armstrong, who was our second unit director and our first AD, Rich Goodwin — we all spent many hours in that village trying to wrap our heads around the choreography of it all and then breaking it down into beats."

Given how the action shifts from the watchtower to the village to the surrounding area, it makes sense that it required some intense planning for it all to come together. The biggest challenge, however, turned out to be figuring out how to film the transition from night to morning. According to Disenhof, "It was really just weeks and weeks of so many different departments coming together and planning it out shot by shot."

"The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" airs its season finale next Friday on Prime Video.