JAN / FEB 2015: BY CHARITY BISHOP
I love a good swordfight. It’s like dancing, but deadlier. I love the swordfight in 1983 The Scarlet Pimpernel, where it is less life threatening and more played for laughs, as Sir Percy divests Chauvelan of his coat and all his buttons.
When my sister introduced me to The Princess Bride, I was in heaven. Its swordfights were epic! Nothing, I thought, could top this… until The Mask of Zorro. At one point, Alejandro has a sword in either hand and fights two villains at once, their moves perfectly synchronized. I made dying whale noises. Then Pirates of the Caribbean came out, with its many sword duels. Between swash and buckle, I got hooked and have been a fan of that franchise ever since. I enjoy a good yarn, with damsels in distress (now, more of them take up a sword and teach the men a thing or two!), and with that oh-so-elegant way to die.
Swordfights can be found in many cinematic tales, but most often in “swashbucklers,” films devoted to telling a daring story of adventure and romance. The sad truth is, there are not many of them in modern times. The old-fashioned swashbuckler has gone away, replaced by big-screen sci-fi productions and fantasy films. In olden days of yore, they were the big box office money-makers, when Basil Rathbone (an expert swordsman, which makes his sped-up duel in the old black and white Zorro film all the funnier) or Errol Flynn were household names. Even so, the adventure, romance, and the history behind swashbucklers remains near and dear to many hearts. Here, we highlight some of the more famous (and non) swashbucklers, in the hope that you will plunder and pillage your way to a new favorite … or rediscover an old classic.