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When you have a show where fire-breathing dragons, magnificent castles, and evil ice zombies are common place, the use of CGI is a bit of a necessity. Game of Thrones utilizes a lot of impressive CGI to make its fantasy world come to life, but that doesn't mean it isn't without its practical effects too. In the most recent episode of the series, fans were witness to Beric Dondarrion wielding a flaming sword against a horde of wights. It turns out that that flame effect was entirely practical and actor Richard Dormer was actually carrying around a sword that was on fire. According to Dormer...
The sword is not CGI. That's real flames every single time. It lasts about two minutes, so I could only use it for two minutes and then it would start to go out so we had to start all over again...Also, I had to slow my sword arm down by about 20%. So if I was doing a move, I would just do it quick with the sword. But with the sword on fire, you can't move that fast otherwise the flame will go out. So you've got to move just slightly slower but more effort, you know? Also it weighs three times as much as a normal sword, so it's just this big club really.
In the penultimate episode of Game of Thrones Season 7, "Beyond the Wall," Jon Snow and his assembled Suicide Squad of fan-favorite characters journeyed, well, beyond the Wall, with an admittedly horrible plan to capture and bring back a wight. It went south pretty quickly as Jon and his team were surrounded on all sides by the Night King's forces on a frozen lake. The frequently resurrected Beric Dondarrion's weapon of choice was a sword that he could ignite into flames. It's really cool and now it's only more so because it was entirely real.
Nothing was easy about filming that episode, as actor Richard Dormer told Variety. The episode took five weeks to shoot that battle sequence and the actors were running "a marathon in about 40 kilos of armor and seal skin." Couple that with being blind in one eye, and that's a pretty physically taxing shoot. Dormer told Variety that it wasn't any easier carrying around his flammable sword, which would only stay lit for about two minutes at a time. On top of that, it weighed three times as much as a normal sword and he had to swing it slower than normal so the flames wouldn't go out. Game of Thrones isn't an easy show to film by any means but at least all the effort resulted in a pretty sweet battle scene.