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Legendary sword master Bob Anderson dies.

It is reported that the sword-fighting trainer and choreographer passed away today, at the age of 89. Bob Anderson was a behind-the-scenes name little known to many fans but who had a tremendous impact not only on the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, but on cinema itself. Anderson’s many credits include: Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, Princess Bride, Highlander and much more. From thelordoftherings.net: “Bob Anderson, the world’s top sword master who has consulted on such films as Star Wars and trained the legendary Errol Flynn, was also brought in to train the actors in different fencing techniques. An expert in medieval arms, Anderson read the novel and then developed sparring methods based on Tolkien’s descriptions of each culture.”

For my money, his two greatest contributions as sword master and/or choreographer are in The Princess Bride and the first Pirates of the Caribbean. Maybe the massive three-act Battle of Amon Hen in Fellowship of the Ring as the third greatest, but for pure fencing swordsmanship and iconic fun, the first two. However, he actually was Darth Vader in a couple of the Star Wars movies:

Anderson also owns a claim to fame for being a swordfighting trainer for several films, as well as a stunt double for Darth Vader in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. He is one of seven people to have played that character. [...] Anderson did not receive much recognition for his role in the Star Wars films for years after their initial release, in part because David Prowse was so lauded for his portrayal that director George Lucas did not want to detract from the boost it gave the actor's career. In a 1983 interview, however, Mark Hamill paid homage to Anderson's contribution, saying, "Bob Anderson was the man who actually did Vader’s fighting. It was always supposed to be a secret, but I finally told George I didn’t think it was fair any more. Bob worked so bloody hard that he deserves some recognition. It’s ridiculous to preserve the myth that it’s all done by one man."

There is very little I love in movies--perhaps in life--more than a good sword fight. If anyone deserves an Oscar montage this year, it's Bob Anderson, and it would be the most entertaining thing in the whole show.

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I'm not positive I knew his name, but I absolutely know his work. I'm in agreement with your choices. I'm so glad we have the work to cherish. </p>

I read that interview with Mark Hamill at the time (I believe it was in Starlog, that's how old I am), and there was some pretty significant fallout in the fandom, of the type that would feature on FW if it had happened in the internet age. I always appreciated the sense of fairness and respect in Hamill's chice to say something, though.

Fallout? Because he exposed that it wasn't just Prowse?

If you have the new Princess Bride DVD set, there's interesting information on the Elwes and Patankin duel in the documentaries and audio commentaries, although I don't recall if Bob Anderson's name is mentioned. It remains my favorite movie sword fight.

IIRC, they don't explicitly name Bob Anderson- they talk about him as "the guy who trained Errol Flynn!" but don't mention his name. Great special features, though.

'Princess Bride' is my favorite movie to quote from and it has the best duel sequence ever:
Inigo: You are using Bonetti's Defense against me, ah?
Wesley: I thought it fitting considering the rocky terrain.
Inigo: Naturally, you must suspect me to attack with Capa Ferro?
Wesley: Naturally... but I find that Thibault cancels out Capa Ferro. Don't you?
Inigo: Unless the enemy has studied his Agrippa... which I have.

"I would sooner destroy a stained glass window than an artist like yourself."

He did excellent duels--my favorite of his is POTC, which is so very original and varied.

I don't think he did the one in The Court Jester, but here it is, for the fun of it:


my fencing career was short, only 2 years, and my record was not awesome, only one win, but i loved every minute of it. my team fenced at a national level (no thanks to me) and the trips and the fights and the friendships were amazing. i owe it all to him.
i still love to fence. i would love to get back into it. mostly i haul my skills out around christmas time, with cardboard tubes. its still awesome, and i am unbeaten for the 3rd year in a row this year.

he will be missed.

Aww man, this makes me so sad! His work was incredible. I still remember being in junior high school drama and we had a short unit on stage fencing and what did we watch for reference? That awesome scene from The Princess Bride, of course.

That sucks so much. Someone needs to start a petition to the Academy to have Bob get a serious nod and montage at the Oscars this year. He deserves it, after having created some of the most memorable scenes in film in the last 50-plus years.

Oh, thank you for bringing this to my attention. You're right, he deserves a great deal of homage.

Aww, that's too bad. There are a lot of very sad people in Hollywood over this one, I'm sure.

After 89 years, he goes up to the big swordfight in the sky. Be not saddened, internet. As in his onscreen battles, death is a part of life.

My favorite of his so far is the work he did in "Alatriste" a Spanish movie starring Viggo Mortensen based on a very popular series of novels here.
The work he did with the fight scenes was one of the things that for me stayed closer to the spirit of the novels and the setting in Seventeenth century spain.

I agree about the Oscar montage. Not only would it be fun for us to watch, but can you imagine how fun it would be for the people putting it together?