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ERAGON

The Battle Of Farthen Dur
ERAGON has many grand set pieces, but none as big as The Battle of Farthen Dûr, where Urgals and Galbatorix's elite army attack the Varden stronghold. The battle marks the end of Eragon's journey and the climax of the story.

As the battle opens, Eragon and Saphira are helping fight off the king's invading troops – leading to an aerial battle between Eragon and Durza, with Eragon atop Saphira, and Durza riding an enormous beast conjured from the dead soldiers on the ground below. The ground battle, involving hundreds of extras and stunt people captured on film during principal photography, as well as the CG extensions added during postproduction, provides a backdrop for the aerial conflict – all under a dramatic moonlit sky.

As the massive conflict unfolds, Farthen Dûr becomes nothing less than a vast theater of destruction.

As described in the story, the Varden stronghold is constructed in the crater of an extinct volcano. Against the cliff face are the remnants of an eroded white marble city, stoic ruins of a time past, built into the volcano wall, stretching and twisting a mile high.

Under the supervision of production designer Wolf Kroeger, the filmmakers built one of the biggest practical sets in motion picture history. The set was too spectacular to erect on a soundstage, so the production, after conducting several scouting expeditions, found an abandoned rock quarry and crater at a volcano in Hungary, near the Austria border. "That location worked out very well,” says Kroeger, since it's written in the script that Farthen Dûr is in a volcanic area.”

Before construction could begin on this massive set, the filmmakers had to build an access road to get to the top of the crater. It took 16 weeks of planning, building and landscaping to create the set from an empty quarry into a lived-in community.

Peter MacDonald, one of the industry's top second unit directors and action specialists – he worked on two "Superman” films, two "Batman” pictures and four "Harry Potter” blockbusters – collaborated with Stefen Fangmeier to bring the epic battle to life. "We wanted to give the sequence an edgy, combat-like feel,” notes MacDonald, a director in his own right.

To capture the action, MacDonald worked with 450 extras and stunt people, 10 hours each night – often during frigid conditions (it was winter) – for several weeks. The sequence involves Urgals (who are uncommonly tall) and elves; many of the "Urgal” extras were 6'6” or taller, with those playing elves 5'0” or less.

The decision to shoot at night presented challenges to director of photography Hugh Johnson. "The location was a vast area with terraces and it was very difficult to get any lights up there,” says Johnson, whose department went to elaborate lengths to rig the volcanic crater's vast and treacherous spaces – employing a team of Russian mountaineers to haul the equipment.

For this sequence, Kym Barrett designed non-traditional costumes, this time of "armor.” "I thought of what armor would be like in this particular world,” says Barrett. "In this scene, Eragon rides Saphira and fights the invading forces, and he couldn't be lugging around 25 pounds of armor plating. I also didn't want the characters to look like they were wearing big, clunky suits of armor. I wanted it to be more streamlined, so I used leather for the armor.” Barrett called in noted London couture leather makers to manufacture the unique pieces.

The completion of the second unit work in Hungary marked only the first step in the scene's creation. Fangmeier, MacDonald and crew then moved to Pinewood Studios in England, where they shot blue screen work of Ed Speleers "riding” Saphira, battling Robert Carlyle's Durza who is astride his own flying Beast. The filmmakers wanted to push these flying scenes to get, as MacDonald s

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