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Canada Star Wars Prequels Entertainment

Bob Anderson, the Man Behind Vader's Lightsaber, Dies at 89 99

Posted by timothy
from the sad-news-for-the-new-year dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Australia's ABC News: "Bob Anderson, an Olympic swordsman who staged fights for films including the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings trilogy, has died at the age of 89. ... Anderson donned Darth Vader's black helmet and fought light-saber battles in two of the three original Star Wars films, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, but his role was not initially publicized." The accompanying video clips are great; I never thought about anyone being in the Vader suit besides David Prowse.
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Bob Anderson, the Man Behind Vader's Lightsaber, Dies at 89

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  • by Noughmad (1044096) <> on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @10:18AM (#38571498) Homepage

    Anderson donned Darth Vader's black helmet and fought light-sabre battles in two of the three original Star Wars films, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi

    The epic duel between Vader and Obi-Wan was apparently so bad they had to hire an Olympic swordsman just to make things 'OK'.

  • by aslagle (441969) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @10:56AM (#38571812)

    He took the line in The Princess Bride that went something like 'they had the best swordfight ever', and turned it into the best sword fight on film I've ever seen.

    Cary Elwes and Mandy Patinkin practiced constantly for that fight scene, during breaks in filming, and it shows. Nothing beats doing something for real. Saying "we'll fix it in post" using CGI has become a crutch, I think.

  • by DaViking (827886) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @11:17AM (#38572034)
    The great thing about the "Chatty Duel" in the Princess Bride is how simple the blade work actually is. Besides the acrobatics and tossing of swords the fencing is relatively simple and well executed. That scene has generated more interest in fencing than any of our recent Olympic achievements can hope to. Nearly every student I've taught has been influenced to seek out the sport in part by that film and after 6 months or so I will tell them to re-watch it and see all the actions they just learned. As was said above, he was able to create such elegant choreography and able to teach the actors to perform it with such skill he was able to create so many of the great and memorable film duels.
  • by lord_mike (567148) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @12:00PM (#38572700)

    That and the fact that the Ep IV sabers were so brittle, they weren't even allowed to make full contact with each other. The actors were told to keep it as gentle as possible 'cos the sabers kept shattering. The original light sabers actually emanated... you know... light. They wee made of real light bulbs in them illuminating a lucite-type material. You can actually see the power cord on Obi-Wan's wrist in one of the shots. Later on, they decided to colorize them after the fliming, It was only in later films that they decided to just use sticks and draw all of the effects in post production. The episode IV's fight scene's "lameness" is partially a result of the actors having to be gentle and play nice with their fragile props. Alec Guinness was actually an accomplished swordsman himself, but he was forced to "tone it down".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @12:41PM (#38573178)

    Actually they didn't "Emit" light, they were covered with front projection screen material and a beamsplitter was used to bounce light off it and back into the camera. Low tech optical effects, but complex. Then they tinted the film. Later they just painted it in. They couldn't hit them very hard because it would knock off a big cloud of the coating. Look at the old films to see that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @05:34PM (#38577510)

    The power cord was not for illumination - It powered a small motor that spun the blade, which was not round but triangular in shape. The wooden 'blade' was covered with 3M reflective material similar to what is used on road signs. The blades reflected available light from the studio key lights.

    And yes, they broke like crazy. Beginning with Empire they used aluminum rods that could take more contact.

Aren't you glad you're not getting all the government you pay for now?