The Last of Us' Bella Ramsey explains the meaning behind the giraffe in episode 9
14 March 2023, 13:14
Is the giraffe in The Last of Us real or CGI? Here's what Bella Ramsey and the team behind the show have said.
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The Last of Us episode 9 features a surprise appearance from a giraffe. Is the giraffe real though...and why is it in the show?
For viewers who haven't played The Last of Us games, the season 1 finale features multiple unexpected moments. From the twist regarding how the Fireflies plan to use Ellie to make a cure for cordyceps to Joel's heartbreaking confession, there are plenty of surprises throughout the episode. Not to mention, it features one of the highest death counts of the entire show.
However, in and amongst the fighting, murder and chaos, it's the appearance of a giraffe that has got everyone confused. Now, Bella Ramsey and the team behind the show have opened up about the giraffe scene and the meaning behind it.
READ MORE: The Last of Us episode 9 explains how Ellie is immune to the cordyceps infection
In episode 9, Joel and Ellie finally arrive at the Fireflies' camp. Here, they meet a giraffe in the vegetation that has taken over what was Salt Lake City. Ellie and Joel then feed the giraffe and, in that moment, you can see Ellie taken over by a sense of joy and wonder. Meanwhile, Joel is beset with glee seeing how happy the whole incident makes Ellie.
Discussing the scene in HBO's Inside of the Episode, showrunner Craig Mazin stated: "There is this moment, and we really just follow the game here very closely because it's so beautiful, where they encounter a giraffe."
Bella Ramsey then explained the meaning behind it. She said: "It's a joyful moment for Ellie, and for Joel, seeing Ellie finally be a glimmer of who she used to be after the trauma that she's faced. Everything that she experienced hasn't just gone away. It's just this moment of beauty. So precious, it's almost sad. It was bittersweet but still so so beautiful."
Craig then added that it's the beauty of this scene that allows Joel and Ellie to then open up to each other about their pasts. He said: "There's just a moment of awe and wonder in this world still and the beauty of it is such that we understand why the ice melts between them."
Is the giraffe in The Last of Us real?
Talking to Variety about the giraffe, production designer John Paino explained that they used real giraffes from the Calgary Zoo for the scene because there was not enough time to create a CGI giraffe. They then trained them so that Bella and Pedro could feed them in the scene without any issues.
John said: "We needed to see if we could acclimate the giraffe to strangers feeding it, with a very small film crew there. There was the indoor enclosure with a balcony and an outdoor one where the keepers would take care of it. The trainers worked to get them to eat out of a stranger’s hand."
He continued: "So, when Ellie and Joel walk up at the enclosure, that’s the giraffe eating those branches of food. That’s Hollywood magic of Alex isolating the giraffes and putting them on our set. That was probably the most complicated piecing of VFX stage, scenery and location I’ve worked on."
Read more The Last of Us news here:
- The Last of Us season 2 will be different from the game says co-creator
- The Last of Us fans are sobbing over Joel's confession about his scar in episode 9
- The Last of Us fans call for Bella Ramsey to win Emmy after "traumatising" episode 8
- The Last of Us' Storm Reid calls out the homophobic backlash to Ellie and Riley's kiss
- The Last of Us creators explain the gay subtext behind Ellie and Riley's lingerie scene