Swordfighting in movies

Discussion in 'General Weapons & Armour' started by Anduril, Jan 12, 2005.

  1. Anduril

    Anduril Flame of the West

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    I have the privilege of studying under a fencing coach who understands all sorts of weaponry- everything from the Greeks to the French musketeers. So I have been able to ask him all sorts of questions concerning sword fencing in films today. He said that film fencing is to historical fencing what world of wrestling is to sport wrestling. Movie fencing is made to entertain, not fight. Of course some fencing in movies is much better than others. He said "The Lord of the Rings" is really good while some movies aren't good at all. For example, I recently asked him about "Troy". He said it wasn't good at all because the sweeps were way too big and bronze swords weren't used like swords are today. He said the only good fight was the very first fight in the film.
     
  2. Tenaka

    Tenaka New Member

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    He is right. Sword fighting in the movie is just to entertain. In a real sword fight, you would never EVER show your back to your enemy IE: spinning. The reason the fighting in Lord of the Rings was done so well, was because they hired a master swordsman to coriograph the fights as best as possible. If you want to see a real sword fight, check out those dueling films of Japanese swordsmen. They go for any opertunity they can get, going for each other's hands, and that kind of stuff. In Troy, a Gladius is not a hack and slash weapon, it was designed to get troops together as close as possible without risk of injuring your fellow soldiers, so it was more of a cut and thrust weapon.
     
  3. R. Laine

    R. Laine New Member

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    Quite so. Swordplay in films -most of them, anyway- has to be easily followable to the audience (the majority of which would miss the finer points of real fencing) while providing dramatic value and often somehow furthering the story, which can be quite difficult on film without exaggarating the characters' movements and expressions. The same pretty much applies to all acting.
     
  4. Anduril

    Anduril Flame of the West

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    Actually the bronze age swords would bend if they were used in a cutting motion which is why spear and shield was the primary weapon of the day. But you are right about the spinning. I don't think there was that much spinning in LotR. My coach says that the guy who did LotR understands real swordplay but he also knows what is good on film. And a woman who is sort of the asst. coach says the reason LotR is so good is because she can watch the swordplay and not say, "Well that was stupid".
     
  5. defyitall

    defyitall Art House Member

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    i always looked at it this way: watch WWE and watch talented fighters in UFC go at it. In UFC they can spend a lot of time walking around in a circle testing each other's defenses and such. Same with Greco-Roman or Freestyle in the Olympics. Very boring at times. But WWE! action from the get go. guys just run at each other!

    i find that one of the most exciting sword choreographers is Nick Gilliard, who did all the SW prequels. It's amazing to watch but highly impractical. Spinning, jumping, swords spun around the back. I mean I guess maybe Jedi could fight like that? I don't have the Force so I guess I don't know.
     
  6. Mububban

    Mububban Administrator Staff Member

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    I wouldn't count Star Wars as "movie sword fighting" because they're fighting in a fantasy world, with characters who have Force-fuelled speed and agility, so fancy stuff is par for the course.
     
  7. Grima Wormtongue

    Grima Wormtongue Man in black

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    The guys name is Bob Anderson. Hes world famous for teaching the actors how to fight, aswell as planning the fight out. Hes done everything , star wars, pirates of the carribean, LOTR, and tons of other movies. Though, hes getting really old now:(
    -wormtongue
     
  8. R. Laine

    R. Laine New Member

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    I sorta disagree with this point. Polearms were *always* the primary weapon until firearms took their place, for the simple reason that they were the most effective type of weapon around.

    Even in the bronze age, swords were very capable of surviving cutting attacks.

    Rabbe
     
  9. Anduril

    Anduril Flame of the West

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    I'm just telling you what my coach said. I guess the only way to find out is to take a bronze sword and hit it against something.
     
  10. Cudgel

    Cudgel The name says it all

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    bronze swords could cut well and stand up to it because it is posible to harden bronze. Copper and most of alloys are work hardened metels. Meaning if you beat it it gets hard. And properly made bronze weapons could out preform good iron weapons becasue bronze could harder than iron.
    And polearms were most definatly the weapon of choice for war until fire arms showed up and they were still used for quite a awhile still to protect the men with firearms.
    and the greeks didnt use a gladius, thats a roman weapon made of irn and steel, Dont recall thename of Greek swords.
     
  11. Cheesy Goodness

    Cheesy Goodness The Fighters Guide House Member

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    Kill Bill was realistic ;)

    It it true you're not supposed to spin Tenka? What if you fade away while spinning...I guess it still depends on what weapon your opponent is using...
     
  12. CB Swords

    CB Swords Forum Administrator

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    I think one of the problems with alot of movies is that you're not always dealing with actors who can physically do the moves. And StarWars suffers from this problem. The Luke Vader duel in ROTJ is alright but Darth just doesn't move that well (must be the suit). The other battles involve Alec Guiness (old) Christopher Lee (really old) or Liam Neeson (over the hill). The exception is the battle between Obi Wan and Darth Maul. That is by far the best StarWars duel, probably because for once you had younger actors. I have hopes for the Obi Wan & Anakin battle though.

    As for other fighting, something that always annoys me is how people often just "dance in the background and look threatening." Like when the hero is ambushed by 12 people....

    I think there is some good sword fighting in alot of the Highlander TV Shows. Not all of them, because again not everyone is as fit as Adrian Paul, but some episodes have good fights.
     
  13. Cudgel

    Cudgel The name says it all

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    one of the reasons that teh Maul Obi Wan fight was good looking was that teh actor playing Mual was originally one of the choreographers and has a background in wushu. Or so I remember reading somewhere.

    And as for the spinning in a fight. I have done it once because somehow I and my oppent ended up back to back. And the only way we could renegae was to spin away.
     
  14. Tenaka

    Tenaka New Member

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    The thing with spining, no matter how good you are, you are leaving yourself open for an attack. A good swordsman can take the opertunity to stab him in the back or another vital spot. I mean, think about it. From the time it takes you to face your enemy again, if he is a good swordsman, he will have enough time to put a blade into your unprotected back. Back in the day, the average solder hacked and slashed with their swords, as someone with skill wouldnt hack and slash, they would thrust more often. I cant say spinning isnt true, but it is very highly unlikley that they did. It all depends on the skill of the swordsman.
     
  15. Cheesy Goodness

    Cheesy Goodness The Fighters Guide House Member

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    I can see how you shouldn't in both large scale battles and one on one dueling, but the thing is, if you're opponent isn't a dueling legend, they're not going to hit every open spot. Spinning and running be them may sike them out, because after you spin, they cant see the hilt, so that means they can't see where the blade is comming. Could be verticle, horizontal, .45 degree angle, they're not quite sure. Of course, this is comming from a rookie, but I just thought I would throw my two cents in the mix.
     
  16. darthrage

    darthrage Sith Lord of the Realm

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    As far as the Star Wars bit goes, you hit it Chris, old older , oldest - and Mark Hamil, not known for his sword fighting prowess. It hasn't been until relatively recent that you have actors doing serious sword and combat training for films. Normally stunt men / women would do it and there'd be cutaway and no one looking at the camera etc. I think the Matrix was the first big film where the directors said the actors are going to have to learn how to do this stuff. And since then it's been quite normal to see more training for roles of this type than "research". Look at the cast of LOTR and what they had to do.
    Ewan mcGregor (forgive my spelling) and Hayden Christensen in star wars. The list goes on.
     
  17. defyitall

    defyitall Art House Member

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    it can also have a lot to do with who is doing the chereography. Peter Diamond, the guy that cheroegraphed Star Wars and did most fo the principle stunt work, wasn't really setting up the most dramatic, action packed fights. In Epi IV he had to contend with having an old man on one side of the fight and Lucas told him that he wanted the actors to have a broadsword style fight with a bit of samurai influence. In other words, he wanted the actors to always hold the sabers with 2 hands. This limited the amount he could do but, not to take anything away from Mr. Diamond, that he was just setting up kind of flat, old school sword fights in the OT. Nothing special, looked very much like most sword fights seen in movies up to that time. Just with laser swords which made it interesting!

    Nick Gilliard came along and brought a whole new element to the mix. Times have changed since the OT and people, especially stunt men, have a greater understanding of WORLD fighting cultures. So Nick was able to bring various Asian influences (Kali, Kendo, Samurai katana stuff, etc.) as well as traditional fencing and broadsword stuff to the mix. Obviously the fights were much more Asian influenced than traditional. But I think Nick borught the new idea of kinetic energy to those fights.

    Instead of making it look like two men exerting a lot of energy against each other's sabers (the main focus of Diamond's fights) Gilliard made the fights all about speed. To me at least, that seemed to make more sense that the Jedi would fight extremely fast not slow and powerfully. Since a lot of people were captivated by the Maul/Obi Wan fight, I think people feel the same way and that Gilliard really struck on something there.
     
  18. Cascador

    Cascador Who's Anakin?

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    yeah as for the training for Ewan and Hayden. Hayden had to learn about 1500 new moves, Ewan about a 1000. They say that the dual is going to take about 12 minutes. I'm really looking forward to this fight. I think it will certainly be the most impressive fight of all the films. But since we are talking about movie fights. I agree that the style of the phantom menace fight was better in style and such. But the fight in the empire strikes back is still better in my opinion. Cause it was a good combination of fighting, dialogue and music, which made the fight itself more thrilling as you can see how Vader tries to challenge Luke. And it wasn't just fighting. The scene where you think they will start fighting again and than Vader starts to throw objects at Luke brought some variation in the dual and in combination with the music (there was no music at all during the obi-wan vs. Darth maul fight) it made the fight the best. But that's just my opinion. Some say the fight in Return of the Jedi was better. But I think it was too short.
     
  19. CB Swords

    CB Swords Forum Administrator

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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Duel of the Fates playing throughout that whole sequence? Thats a great fighting song if you ask me.

    The person who brought up speed made a good point, it just looks better when things are moving fast. You brought up the bit where vader throws things at Luke. Those boxes and whatnot move so slow (probably because they were on strings) compared to the newer movies where thrown things are going to be all CGI. I recall when Darth Maul throws something at the door panel to open it up.
     
  20. Cascador

    Cascador Who's Anakin?

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    Duel of fates was playing in the beginning but not during the fight in the melting room. In my opinion Duel of Fates shouldn't be played during that fight, it would have been better if they introduced it at the fight of Anakin and Obi-Wan, cause they will definatly play that theme at that fight, cause that is what the theme is about...fate! When I watched the gametrailer you could hear the theme too, and it looked and even sounded more dramatic than in TPM. About the fact that darth maul threw something at the door to open it up...well it's not really something that brought variation to the fight. Like I said it could have been much better if there was some dialogue in the fight. I think that is what they tried in the ep II fights with Dooku. But the fighting style was not as good as in TPM unfortunatly.
     
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