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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 think I might have been in my early teens when I started hearing about Bob Anderson. It probably tied in around the time when I got interested in Errol Flynn films and would be reading snippets about Old Hollywood where I could find them. This was the late 80's so it took some researching. And then his name would crop up in other places with regards to other films and I'd see those films and think 'he makes it so easy'.

So when it came to the LoTR films and there would be a quote from Bob Anderson about Viggo Mortensen or Orlando Bloom being good with swords before the films came out, I think that's when I knew the films would do well because they were clearly doing it right.

The Princess Bride swordfight is excellent and entertaining. No mean feat that.

Having just watched the Princess Bride clip again--the amazing thing is how complex the hand and foot work is, and yet the actors are very calmly bantering the whole time. I can't even imagine the amount of rehearsal that must have taken.

I had heard that one of the reasons Elwes and Patinkin were cast is that they were both already fencers, and so were able to handle the incorporation of the historical fencing styles into the scene (everything they name is a real style/master, and they're doing the proper moves, too. According to my friends who study these things, anyway).

It is one of the prettiest fight scenes ever. Oh, Westley (swoons)

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