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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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Sure thing.

no idea that is credits extended so widely.

He worked with Errol Flynn, even, although I think at that point it was more stunt work and general training, not sword-master choreography.

there is nothing like a real sword fight and the ballet of movement needed to pull it off.

I think one of the things I really loved about the LOTR sword work is that it's beautiful and creative work, but with a desperate and ugly edge--the Princess Bride and Pirates clips are really about two antagonists putting each other through their paces, so virtuoso footwork is appropriate. But Anderson also knew (because I remember him talking about this on the DVD) that the LOTR characters would be fighting to kill, fighting for their lives, so there wouldn't be a lot of pretty clink-clink blade parrying. There would be stabbing and slashing and dispatching the enemy as quickly as possible, and not with an elegant little fencing poke, either. Which is why most of the really great Amon Hen sword choreography involves the characters taking on five million antagonists at once, instead of a single enemy for five minutes solid.

Thank you - I've ordered the DVD.

Are you excited about awards season? I do look forward to your accounts.

I'm also very excited about The Tolkien Society's Return of the Ring event in August. Being held quite close to me as well. The filsm have really opened them out from being a very literary society to a lot more fun.

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