King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

A reimagining of the Arthurian legend in which Arthur comes from the streets and eventually must own his legacy.
  • Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law
  • Director(s): Guy Ritchie
  • Producer(s): Steve Clark-Hall, Akiva Goldsman, Joby Harold, Guy Ritchie    
  • Screenwriter(s): Joby Harold, Guy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram, David Dobkin
  • Distributor: Warner Brothers
  • Animal Coordinator: The Devils Horsemen, Birds and Animals, 1st Choice Animals
  • Release Date: Friday, May 12, 2017
  • Rating: Outstanding

Featured Animal Action

All horseback riders were stunt riders or experienced actors who were skilled at riding, mounting and dismounting. All running/galloping scenes were well choreographed, and actors used caution while on and near animals. The horses rearing was a trained behavior. The horses were specially trained “falling horses” and “lay down horses” that fell on cue onto a soft landing area. When teams of horses pulled wagons or carriages, the drivers were experienced and teams of horses were familiar with each other and accustomed to the pulling action.  Whenever horses were seen tied to posts/fences, they were attached to lead ropes tied to posts.

In the opening scene where the bridge falls and the men on horseback fall into the canyon, two groups of horseback riders were formed. The scene was filmed on a real bridge, with green screens stretched along the length of the bridge. All the arrows being fired are CGI. The groups of horseback riders galloped across the fake bridge, and the horses were completely clear of the site when the SFX team released the air compression banger sending foam debris across the bridge. The horses were checked regularly between takes. Green screens ran the length of the bridge and will show mountains, a green screen was within the castle showing further castle detail, and a green screen at the drop end of the bridge will show a large cliff drop where the horse will be shown to fall. No horses fell. All of those scenes where accomplished through CGI.

When we see a woman carrying a baby Arthur through the town square and there are dogs and horses in the background, all the dogs have costumed extras or handlers holding them. A green screen is at the end of the street and will show further street scenes. The horses were also brought to set by their trainers and were hooked onto their carts. The dogs and horses were given food, water and shade between takes.

In the scene where we see the woman holding the bird in front of a cage of birds, the birds were carried to set in their travel cages. The cages were filled with fresh water and seed, and all the door catches and cages were inspected for security. When the cages were not in shot they were removed from the set and held in a quiet holding area.

In the scene where the king’s soldiers invade the town with dogs on leashes, trainers brought the dogs to set and put dogs in costumes. AH Reps made sure the path for the dogs was clear of debris. On action, the trainers cracked their whips which was the trigger for the dogs to begin to bark and act as though they wanted to attack. When the shoot was complete the dogs were taken to the back of the stage where they were given food and water.

In the scene where Arthur and the King face-off and we see costumed dogs and horses in the vicinity, along with an eagle, the eagle was created through CGI. The horses and dogs were fully costumed and tacked up at their holding areas. When the horses go crazy from Mordred’s magic, the dogs were removed from the set. For this scene, the horses performed at ground level below the raised stage. The horses were held in a large coned off area away from passing traffic and movement of equipment. Horses frequently offered fresh water and dismounted. Trainers got the horses to look as if they were panicking by simply pulling on their reins and walking them in quick circles. Also a couple of the trainers acted as agitators off-camera, using hand signals to get the horses to whinny and rear back.

In the same scene when the dogs turn on their owners and attack them, three dogs were positioned in a row at the top of the stairs. They were asked to suddenly turn to their left, barking wildly. The dogs’ agitator was hidden behind the camera triggering the action. When all three dogs were barking, another trained dog was released and grabbed onto stuntman’s arm as if he were being attacked. The dog was trained to play/attack with the man on stage. All dogs were rewarded with treats after the scene was shot.

In the scene where the horse rears and Arthur falls off, the stuntman sat on the horse. The horse’s trainer stood in front of the horse and on voice command cued the horse to pull back. The stunt rider fell off the horse and onto a mat.

In the scene where we see everyone at the campsite and an eagle lands near them, the eagle was only handled by it owner and one of the trainers, no one was permitted to touch, handle or get too close to the bird. All food was removed from its direct sight line and the actress interacting with the bird was keep at a safe distance and fully protected from the bird. The bird was fitted with a radio transmitter on his tail and the handler had radio search contact. On action, the trainer cued the bird to fly from point A to the woman’s outstretched arm. They rehearsed this action several times prior to shooting. The eagle was rewarded with food.

In the scene where Arthur and his henchmen set their sites on the King’s horse-led carriage, planning on attacking it, the horses were walked to set, the cart horses were led in their harness and the cart was moved manually. On arrival to set the four blackleg horses were positioned in pairs either side of the gates. The two cart horses were held behind set whilst the actors had two rehearsals, getting in and out of the cart without the horses. 

When a large explosion takes place propelling a panic with extras and animals alike, the the scene was rehearsed several times. There was also blue screens set up throughout the set will depict further details of architecture and city sccapes. The explosion was also done through CGI. After the big firework explosion, which was through a vocal cue, the riders turned the horses towards the exit gate, raised their swords and cantered out of the exit as if chasing civilians.

When Arthur and his compatriots are being chased through the city on rooftops and through alleys by soldiers on horses, the soldiers were warmed up earlier and were walked straight to set. The horses were acclimatized to the set they walked back to the top of the alley and rehearsed the route at walk. On action, the horses and stuntmen rode A to B through various parts of the alleys.

In the scene where the citizens in the town rebel and pull the soldiers off their horses, soldiers were running towards the rioting crowds, the two stunt riders were grabbed by stuntmen dressed as civilians and pulled off their horses to the ground. In the same scene as the mayhem gets heavier and the soldiers ride through the citizens, rubber stones and rocks were thrown at the soldiers and the soldiers fire back CGI arrows. In that same scene when the Molotov cocktail is thrown at the soldiers and hits a tree nearby, the bomb was mild and well cued. The horses were miles away from the explosion and off the set. The fire in the tree did not come close to the horses and did not effect their action in anyway.

The birds that attack in the opening battle scenes and the eagle in the end were both created through CGI.