Locating Westeros and Essos
BEHIND EVERY great masterpiece lies a hidden influence, and the Game of Thrones production design is no exception. The hit series’ art director and production designer, Australian Deborah Rile, has revealed the inspiration behind the design of some of the show’s best scenes, homes, battles and buildings.
Rile, who joined the cast for the production of season four, has spent most of her career working on films, including The Matrix, Anna and the King and Moulin Rouge.
She said while the Game of Thrones story may be fantasy, it is up to the team to focus on bringing the narrative to life and turn it into reality.
“It may be fantasy but you have always got to ask yourself, ‘how would we do this for real?”’ Rile said.
“There is the recipe for being able to do something like Game of Thrones — it means you can kind of dance that line between reality and fantasy.”
And that she has, with the art director thieving influences from history, classical architecture and world-wide artworks.
Think you know where the inspiration behind the Hall of Faces derives from? Guess again.
Here is a look at some of Rile’s inspirations:
BANK OF BRAAVOS
Created around the concept of power, strength and discipline, the design was inspired by the architecture of Albert Speer and the Third Reich. With the hand-painted marble floor and the absence of clutter and decoration, it is no wonder the room feels utterly unwelcoming.
TOP OF THE WALL
The Wall, which in real life is 61 times smaller than projected on screen, was largely influenced by images of World War I’s trench warfare. The icy long set is encrypted by zigzag trenches to fit “a dozen mounted knights to ride abreast”.
Although the set can’t be pinned to one influence, it was shot at a historic building outside the city of Dubrovnik in Croatia. Hotel Belvedere, built in 1986, was under siege in 1991 during the civil war and was later abandoned, making it the perfect setting for the battle between prince Oberyn and The Mountain in Season Four.
THE CITY OF MEEREEN
Home to the wealthy residents of the Meereen people residing inside a city of pyramids, the set was shot in Croatia’s Klis Fortress, dating back 2000 years. The Gates of Meereen can be linked to David Robert’s 19th century paintings, specifically Der Tempel der Dendera. The GOT vision is literally and figuratively holding up the city.
THE HALL OF FACES
The interior of the Hall of Faces is a combination of influences stemming from the Elorra Caves in India and the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery in Hong Kong. The latter is mirrored in the set, with towering shelves consuming row after row and holding the faces of the dead.
HOUSE OF BLACK & WHITE
Home to the many-faced god and the faceless men, the almost claustrophobic, windowless building was designed to feel faceless itself. Inspired by Indian architecture, the exterior resembles buildings of Varanasi on the banks of the Ganges.
FANTASY: Jerome Flynn as Bronn and Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones.