Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pretty Good Sword Fights

Lazy post today - but what they hey! So, a few days ago I posted a video from a 1950's movie called Knights of the Round Table - a keen little film with some great fight scenes - fast and violent without all the quick cuts common in modern films. Here are a couple others (and yeah, my membership in the Grumpy Old Men of America might show up here a little) ...

I wanted to throw in the final fight scenes from Flynn's Adventures of Don Juan and Adventures of Robin Hood (which, by the way, features the film debut of Trigger as Maid Marion's horse), but no dice. If you haven't already seen them, go look for them. Don Juan also has one of my favorite Flynn leading ladies, Viveca Lindfors.

So - Mark of Zorro. Awesome fight scene - every bit the equal of Flynn vs. Rathbone. Please notice that without all the goofy special effects, they had to go to the trouble of constructing an interesting and satisfying scene both in terms of the sword play and the story. I have a hard time believing that CGI and special effects are cheaper than solid writing, but maybe I'm wrong.

I think my favorite fight scene of all time is this one from  Cyrano de Bergerac - "As I end the refrain, thrust home!" I was first shown this film in my freshman English class. There were a few of us D-N-D players in the class - one of my friends carried a briefcase to school and used it to hide the fact that he was reading the DMG and Monster Manual instead of paying attention to the teacher - and I remember having no interest in Cyrano. Poetry, thin swords, etc - no interest. Then I watched Cyrano and discovered not only my favorite literary hero, but also  that the world was much, much wider than the pop culture universe I had been inhabiting. Thanks English Class!


  1. Those are good. Try this one. Can you name all the movies? ;)


  2. Pretty cool post. I really liked the Cyrano scene.

  3. One of my favorite on-screen sword fights ever was in The Princess Bride due to all of the dialogue in which Inigo and the Man in Black talk back and forth to specifically mention which famous style they are using, all drawn from literary sources.

    Inigo: You are using Bonetti's Defense against me, ah?
    Man in Black: I thought it fitting considering the rocky terrain.
    Inigo: Naturally, you must suspect me to attack with Capa Ferro?
    Man in Black: Naturally... but I find that Thibault cancels out Capa Ferro. Don't you?
    Inigo: Unless the enemy has studied his Agrippa... which I have.

    In case people are curious, I found this online explanation:

    Rocco Bonetti opened the first School of Rapier Fence, or Colledge, at Blackfriars in London in 1576. He prefered to deflect jabs and wait for mistakes to be made rather than rush into attack. Ridolfo Capo Ferro taught a linear style of Fence, saying "The cut has little place in rapier play". He published his work Gran Simulacro dell' Arte e dell' uso della Scherma in 1610. Girard Thibault taught the Spanish Style of Fence in which parrying maneuvers ruined jabbing attacks. He published his book Academie de l'Espee in 1630. Camillo Agrippa was regarded as the man who defined the rapier as a thrusting weapon as well as one to be used for cutting. He published his book Trattato di Scienza d'Arme in 1568.

  4. I have a hard time believing that CGI and special effects are cheaper than solid writing, but maybe I'm wrong.

    Far cheaper, and, more importantly, readily available in Hollywood. ;)

    I love those very human duels of yesteryear. Have you discussed the duel from The Court Jester yet? Perhaps not the most dramatic, but from a craft point of view, certainly among the most impressive.

  5. This is why I love the internet - I've learned something new about Princess Bride and discovered (well, rediscovered maybe - it's been a long time since I've seen) The Court Jester.


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