The director of ITV’s Vanity Fair has revealed how the show’s epic recreation of the Battle of Waterloo was shot.
The seven-part adaptation of English novelist William Makepeace Thackeray’s classic 1847 novel is currently airing in the UK at 9pm on Sunday nights on ITV.
Set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars, Vanity Fair follows modern heroine Becky Sharp as she attempts to claw her way out of poverty and scale the heights of English Society.
Discussing the making of the Battle of Waterloo scenes, director James Strong commented: “That was our biggest logistical challenge. In the book, Thackeray wrote very little about the battle.
“He chose to stay away from the fighting, and concentrate on the officers’ wives.We thought the TV audience might feel short changed. So we decided to put the battle on screen.”
He continued: “You start with the research, you look at what happened. You watch the Waterloo film and others. We had a great military advisor and historical advisor.
“So once you know how the battle was fought on the day, including the sheer scale of it, then you place our men into their respective units and tell the story of the Battle of Waterloo through our boys.
“Life could be cheap and fragile back then. Rank and privilege were no real protection. That battle was brutal and horrendous.”
Strong explained: “We had 400 supporting artists, stunt men, 50 horses, special effects and drones with two to three units shooting every day.
“It was an amazing logistical experience to transform this farm in Reading, Mapledurham, where they shot The Eagle Has Landed.
“We were there for over a week and there was a massive camp site, including 200 men who trained in a boot camp to depict Napoleonic soldiers.”
The director revealed: “There was a lot of planning and storyboarding to maximise what you get.
“Because there’s no point in doing all of that and not capturing it all. And we got some amazing stuff.”
The original novel is available to buy on Amazon.
Vanity Fair will premiere in the USA as an Amazon Prime Exclusive later this year.