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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 antifoidulus (807088) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @10:09AM (#38571416) Homepage Journal
    What would Star Wars have been like if James Earl Jones also did the stunts? [youtube.com] RIP, they don't make guys that can do all the special effects without green screens like you anymore.
  • ... the real guy behind Darth Vador [rollingstone.com] is still alive and kicking. Oh, and he likes the comparison, too.
    • by paintballer1087 (910920) <{paintballer1087} {at} {gmail.com}> on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @10:31AM (#38571600)

      the real guy behind Darth Vador

      -5 Nerd points

      the real guy behind Darth Vader

      FTFY

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by JigJag (2046772)

        Fun tidbit: in French, Darth Vader is named "Dark Vador", R2D2 is "D2R2", C3PO is "Z6PO"

        JigJag

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by formfeed (703859)

          Fun tidbit: in French, Darth Vader is named "Dark Vador", R2D2 is "D2R2", C3PO is "Z6PO"

          JigJag

          With the strict language laws, shouldn't it be "Vader noir" ?
          (And all the other main characters un-postable on ASCII centric /. )

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by JigJag (2046772)

            I see the invisible wink at the end of your question; true, there are very strong language laws... in Quebec! Other french-speaking countries are way more relaxed about it. For instance (one amongst thousands), Toy Story is called "Toy Story" in France but "Histoire de jouets" in Quebec.

            Translation is a challenge. When and how do you translate proper names? Why is the country whose capital is Berlin called Germany by the English, Allemagne by the French and Deutschland by its natives? And then why isn't Ber

        • by Phoghat (1288088)

          VINCENT: ...You know what they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris?

          JULES: They don't call it a Quarter Pounder with Cheese?

          VINCENT: No, they got the metric system there, they wouldn't know what the fuck a Quarter Pounder is.

          JULES: What'd they call it?

          VINCENT: Royale with Cheese.

          JULES: Royale with Cheese. What'd they call a Big Mac?

          VINCENT: Big Mac's a Big Mac, but they call it Le Big Mac.

          JULES: What do they call a Whopper?

          VINCENT: I dunno, I didn't go into a Burger King.

    • Re:Meanwhile... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by rossdee (243626) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @11:23AM (#38572156)

      Youknow I think that Dick Cheney is more like Palpatine than Vader

  • by Noughmad (1044096) <miha.cancula@gmail.com> 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 elrous0 (869638) *

      In all fairness, that was probably due way more to Alec Guinness' age and lack of swordsmanship than David Prowse's.

      • 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".

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          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

          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.

  • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @10:22AM (#38571524) Journal

    I loved the lightsaber fights in the original trilogy (particularly RotJ). They were perfectly paced; fast enough to be exciting, but slow enough that you could read a pace and flow to them. They were supported by those wonderful sound effects and music that matched the action perfectly.

    By contrast, the lightsaber battles in the prequels left me absolutely cold. It felt like Lucas had watched the Matrix and decided that he wanted that bullet-time wire-fu in his film whether it actually worked or not. The Darth Maul fight in Ep 1 gets a better press than it deserves on the basis of Duel of the Fates (which is a great piece of film music), but other than that, I couldn't see any of the Ep 1-3 battles as anything but soul-less exercises in camera trickery. They're too fast and there's no drama to them. There's just a lot of flailing about and then somebody wins.

    Bottom line, talented performers and traditional effects outperformed modern CGI and wire-fu.

    • I disagree. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The light saber fights in the first 3 (eps 4,5,6) were clunky and slow and looked planned. It looks like they rehearsed once and then filmed.

      Whereas the last 3 (eps 1,2,3) were wonderfully choreographed - they looked real - the choreographed "mistakes" looked great. The last 3 actually looked like the actors spent many many hours practicing (they did) and it showed.

      The first part of the Trilogy did the saber fighting much better than the second part of the Trilogy (eps: 4,5,6)

      • by sunking2 (521698)
        I'll only agree with you on ep 3. The Vader/Obi Wan fight was painfully poor. And notice this guy didn't work on that one. I think that Lucas had no idea that his little creation would take off like it did and that his light saber concoction would turn into what it did, so not a great deal of effort was put into it.
        • Re:I disagree. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by smi.james.th (1706780) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @01:14PM (#38573630)

          It's worth thinking about it a different way perhaps. In episodes 1, 2 and 3, we find the Jedi in their prime, so naturally they'd be quick and good etc. In episodes 4, 5 and 6 though, there's Obi-Wan and Vader who are very old and Luke who is a complete newby, so their light-sabre skills will be somewhat less than say Darth Maul in episode 1.

          Just my 2c.

          • Re:I disagree. (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Kurt Granroth (9052) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @03:13PM (#38575304)

            I hear this theory quite a bit and I believe that Lucas himself has said this to be the case. I don't buy it. The entire Jedi mythology holds that it's the Jedi's mastery of the Force that gives him the ability to fight with a light saber. They made it very explicit with Yoda's fight with Dooku -- Yoda was hundreds of years old and practically disabled, but his immense mastery of the Force gave him incredible fighting abilities. If anything, Obi-Wan and Vader's age should have increased their skills, not decreased them.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            There are a few chinese movies where the two swordsmen stare at each other and fight the duel in their minds. I don't remember the names of the movies and they flashed to pieces of the mental fighting to keep the movie interesting. I always thought in the originals that Obi and Vader were doing much the same. Neither really moved because they knew the other would block it so what was the point. That the real fighting was more zen like and unseen through the force.

          • by DarKnyht (671407)

            There was also the fact that originally the lightsabers were supposed to be difficult to hold/control. They were told in episode 4 specifically not to fight in a traditional fencing style because they needed both hands to control the power of the blades. Then there were the also mentioned issues with the props themselves breaking.

            I am sure when Lucas gets around to re-shooting the original trilogy using obi-wan from the first one (hey, there are only 10 more years to go more or less), the lightsaber fight

      • by DragonTHC (208439)

        have to agree.

        The Anakin/Dooku duel in AotC was my favorite by far.

        elegant and powerful.

      • Re:I disagree. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Morty (32057) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @11:15AM (#38572020) Journal

        The light saber fights in the first 3 (eps 4,5,6) were clunky and slow and looked planned. It looks like they rehearsed once and then filmed.

        Whereas the last 3 (eps 1,2,3) were wonderfully choreographed - they looked real - the choreographed "mistakes" looked great. The last 3 actually looked like the actors spent many many hours practicing (they did) and it showed.

        The first part of the Trilogy did the saber fighting much better than the second part of the Trilogy (eps: 4,5,6)

        As a former fencer, I completely agree on the fight quality. During the lightsaber battles in the original three movies, the actors' movements were relatively slow and often didn't actually threaten their opponents. They're somewhat painful to watch: I keep thinking "stop thrust, stop thrust!" The actors in the newer trilogies look like they're mostly actually trying to fight each other. Although even in the new series, there still are plenty of moments when someone leaves themselves open to do something showy (i.e. swing their saber backwards) and their opponent doesn't press the advantage.

        That said, in terms of fight choreography, what looks good isn't always what's most realistic.

        • Re:I disagree. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by bckrispi (725257) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @01:17PM (#38573666)

          One thing that's always amused me about the SW saber fights: almost all sword swings are dodged, parried, or blocked. But a punch or kick (or carbonite exhaust pipe to the face)? Connects 100% of the time! Bonus points if the hit happens on a ledge.

        • by Kjella (173770)

          As a former fencer, I completely agree on the fight quality. During the lightsaber battles in the original three movies, the actors' movements were relatively slow and often didn't actually threaten their opponents.

          On the other hand, they didn't stop using the Force and become sword fighters with flashy swords. I mean they could stop blaster shots with those, so why aren't the light saber battles lightning fast? I always felt that Jedi vs Sith was a battle of minds as much as swords, like two mind readers trying to surprise each other where the rules are different and where the obvious moves are anticipated moves so they do no good. I'm not saying the sword play was great, I'm just saying I'm not sure it'd make the mo

      • Re:I disagree. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by RogueyWon (735973) * on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @11:20AM (#38572092) Journal

        Ep 4 is a bit clunky, yes. As other posters have noted, that was made before they brought in the expertise they needed - so you get a fight which is basically two untrained old(ish) men taking swings at each other.

        But what you get in Eps 5 and 6 is a sense of story to the fight. In 5, when Luke fights Vader, he's clearly lost the fight before it even begins. He's distracted and off-balance. Vader's the older, smarter and more skilled fighter. Luke tries gamely enough to begin with, but every swing he takes is turned against him. Vader's not going all out; he doesn't want to kill, so he bides his time and breaks down his opponent before going for a disabling blow.

        In Ep 6, the battle in the throne room begins much the same way. Luke is, once again, at a disadvantage (though he's more aware of it this time). However, once he "snaps" and charges Vader (culminating in him chopping Vader's hand off), his style changes completely. He leaves himself wide open and goes for all-out attack. To use an analogy from fighting games; he's button-mashing. And it catches Vader off guard. Vader's probably still more skilled, but he's also older and slower. He can't keep up with Luke, let alone counter-attack.

        In Eps 5 and 6, the fights help to tell the story. The genius of the choreography of the fights is that it takes place at a pace which allows the average viewer to actually pick up on that.

        By contrast, the eps 1-3 fights have very little sense of story to them. They're more concerned with "wow factor" and, to put a cynical hat on for a moment, with making sure that everybody gets a chance to look cool to boost the toy sales. I never got a sense that a character's emotional state is being reflected in how they fight.

        • Re:I disagree. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Endo13 (1000782) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @11:40AM (#38572430)

          Wish I could mod you up.

          So many people seem to forget that Star Wars (original trilogy at least) wasn't action film, nor sci fi - it was space opera. The drama is the real point of the films. Realism in small details is pretty much irrelevant. That's what they lost in the prequels, which is why so many Star Wars fans despise them.

        • by aitikin (909209)
          This is one of the best analyses of some of the finer points of Star Wars that I have ever read. For the first time in five years, I'm going to have to get back my copy of the original trilogy and re-watch it just to get that awe that you re-instilled in that post.

          Thank you.
        • Re:I disagree. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by bckrispi (725257) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @01:49PM (#38574162)

          But what you get in Eps 5 and 6 is a sense of story to the fight. In 5, when Luke fights Vader, he's clearly lost the fight before it even begins. He's distracted and off-balance. Vader's the older, smarter and more skilled fighter. Luke tries gamely enough to begin with, but every swing he takes is turned against him. Vader's not going all out; he doesn't want to kill, so he bides his time and breaks down his opponent before going for a disabling blow.

          You need to watch the fight more closely. At the beginning of the fight, yes, Vader is toying with him. He holds his saber loosely with one hand. He simply sizes Luke up as being no threat at all. "All too easy. Perhaps you're not as strong as the Emperor thought." Shortly after this, however, Luke escapes the Carbonite chamber, gives Vader a face full of exhaust gas, and kicks him off the platform. By the time we reach the gantry, Vader is going 'balls out' in his fighting. Even then, Luke connects a swing with Vader's shoulder, which is only saved by his armor.

          By contrast, the eps 1-3 fights have very little sense of story to them. They're more concerned with "wow factor" and, to put a cynical hat on for a moment, with making sure that everybody gets a chance to look cool to boost the toy sales. I never got a sense that a character's emotional state is being reflected in how they fight.

          You had your "prequel blinders" on. :) Episode 1: Recall the scene where Obi wan, Qui gon, and Darth Maul were separated by the force fields. Obi wan stood pensively and anxiously. Separated from his master, he's unsure what to do next. Darth Maul paces in his chamber like rabid animal locked in a cage. Qui gon... sits down and _closes his eyes_ in meditation. Everything you need to know about what these three characters think of this fight is right _there_.

          Episode 2: Obi-wan versus Dooku - Watch the look on Christopher Lee's face as he mocks and taunts Obi wan. He clearly has the upper hand, and isn't afraid to show it. Dooku vs. Anakin - I liked this fight because it spent more time focusing on lighting and shadow than it did on the swordplay. Very indicative of the blurry line that Anakin is walking between the light and dark sides. It's the outcome of this fight (Anakin's dismemberment) that feeds his growing desire for revenge that he'll unleash in the next film. Yoda vs. Dooku? Come on! What fanboy who saw ESB when he was 6 in 1980 _didn't_ feel it was worth the 22 year wait to see him kick some ass. Best of all, as soon as the fight was finished, he reached for his walking stick. This simple act shows the nature of how a "true" jedi uses the Force.

          Episode 3: You get _five_ saber battles here. Pick your favorite. My favorites were Mace Windu vs. Sidious (Come on! The head of the Jedi Order vs. a Sith Master? How much more "story" do you need to fill in the blanks here? Plus, as the event that finally pushes Anakin "over the edge", it's importance to the narrative cannot be overstated) , and Obi wan vs. Anakin. What needs to be said about it? Obi wan busts Anakin joining Sideous, murdering hundreds of Jedi (including children), and nearly murdering his pregnant wife. How much more motivation does Obi wan need at this point to turn to fisticuffs? Plus, you have the entire mythological narrative involving the Descent to Hell, eternal damnation, and attempted redemption. This fight, more than any other, shows two combatants who are pretty much evenly matched throughout the whole fight.

          • I found the end of the Obi-Wan vs Anakin fight to be trite. Anakin couldn't attack because Obi-Wan held the high ground? Pffft.
            And that whole fight went on for far too long. What little investment I had in the outcome was long expired by the time Anakin got sliced and diced.

            • by bckrispi (725257)

              Mad fanboi is mad.

              This is a fight that first generation fans had been waiting for for nearly 30 years, and you complain that it was "too long"? Sorry, if you're so jaded in old age that you can't enjoy this, then it might be time to turn in your geek card.

              And don't blame your lack of knowledge about the characters on how the fight ended. Anakin was the more "powerful" swordsman, while Obi-wan was more "experienced". Obi-wan took a tactical advantage (the high ground). In Anakin's overconfidence and arro

          • "You had your "prequel blinders" on. :)"

            I think most people after long consideration have come to conclude that the prequels really and genuinely did suck and suck hard, and that's with nearly all the fans heading to the theaters with a huge positive bias. I don't know if you've seen these already, but I think it's required watching for all Star Wars fans.
            http://redlettermedia.com/plinkett/star-wars/
            • by bckrispi (725257)

              Yes, I have. Was at the theaters at midnight for each of them. My mom took me to see ANH in the theater for the '79 re-release (I was only 3 in '77). I had every action figure up until the last RotJ release. Some figure cards show a picture of Boba Fett with a "working" backpack. I was introduced to the concept of a "spoiler" prior to the release of RotJ, when a Topps Trading card let loose that Vader was, in fact, Luke's father.

              Yes, I've been a Star Wars fan since my first memory. And guess what?

              I lik

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          If I recall*, Alec Guiness was given instructions during the filming of Episode 4 that the lightsaber was intended to be a heavy weapon, more like a massive two-hander than a lightning-quick rapier; a weapon that required two hands to wield properly. And although the battles did become slightly more fluid in Episodes 5 and 6, you can still see this philosophy in the fights between Luke and Vader in Episodes 5 and 6; Luke frequently was filmed swinging the lightsaber with two hands, hacking at foes like a lu

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The light saber fights in the first 3 (eps 4,5,6) were clunky and slow and looked planned. It looks like they rehearsed once and then filmed.

        Then you properly observed AS INTENDED but failed to understand its meaning. At this point Vader is supposed to be old and used up, more machine than man. Obi is an old man. Both are shells of their former glory. And as Vader even said, the student has become the master. What you saw was completely by intent. You just failed to understand what it very clearly communicated; especially in light of the wire-fu stuff presented in episodes 1, 2, and 3.

        Such story telling is but one of endless examples of why 4, 5

    • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @10:39AM (#38571658)

      I think the main problem with the duels in the new films was the decision to make the Jedi so cold and monk-like. With the exception of a very few choice moments from Ewan McGregor, there is very little emotion or soul in those fights. They come off as more academic exercises than "I'm fighting for my life here" battles.

      • by gknoy (899301)

        To be fair, as I've watched more samurai films that same frantic pace has been present in most of the fights, except for the ones where someone is so completely outmatched as to not challenge their opponent. My impression has been much more that lightsaber combat is frantic and requires complete concentration, much as a real sword fight would. So, I can certainly see how showing relatively emotionless combatants works. It's not because the Jedi are cold that the fights turn out that way, it's that fightin

    • by Tanktalus (794810) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @10:47AM (#38571724) Journal

      I agree with AC. However, there seem to be good reason for the difference, just in story-telling.

      In eps 1-3, there were dozens, if not hundreds, of jedi. Plenty to practice and hone your fencing skills with. I would expect fast swordplay if only because the goal of any military action (and that's what a sword fight is) is a quick decision, not a prolonged battle. The quicker you dispatch your enemy, the sooner you can move on to the next action, and the less likely an ambush.

      Meanwhile, in eps 4-6, Vader, Obi-Wan, and Luke really don't have anyone to practice with, at least not in the previous 16-20 years (yeah, yeah, I don't really know what the timeline between 3 and 4 is). I would expect their actions to be a bit clunky. Especially Vader, being "more machine than man." And I'm not sure he ever really embraced his cyborg nature the way that General Greivous did, making it somewhat of an internal battle just to move.

      That said, I agree that the sound effects are definitely key - they take good scenes and make them great.

    • I agree with your criticisms of most of the PT duels - I thought the Obiwan/Anakin fight was a big disappointment - but I actually enjoyed the Maul duel. It was more fast-paced than the OT duels, yes, but the scenes seemed to me to be much better directed and choreographed. Very fast, but without all the unnecessary lightsaber-swinging and twirling.
    • The Darth Maul fight was a joy to watch, but otherwise I agree with you; the rest of the fights were pretty ho-hum.

      • by Gilmoure (18428)

        Am still bummed that they killed off two good characters halfway through the first movie. Qui-Gon woulda' made a great 'loose-canon' cop type of figure, that could have shown Anakin an alternative to the monkish, "stand back and watch" Jedi council. Anakin could have been the young guy who, following what he see's an older guy do, goes to far and then begins the slide to dark side.

        And Darth Maul was the sickest villain since Vader. What a shame. Lucas really needed an story editor who could stand up to him.

        • Lucas really needed an story editor who could stand up to him.

          I remember reading that at Lucasfilm George is referred to in hushed tones of awe. The feigned reverence for him that everyone gives off means that criticism is impossible. Which explains why the prequels are so full of incredibly bad ideas.

          I watch the prequels to see the world of Star Wars properly rendered with the best technology, but they can't hold a candle to the first two films, which were the best. I had the experience years ago, befo

        • by bckrispi (725257)

          Am still bummed that they killed off two good characters halfway through the first movie. Qui-Gon woulda' made a great 'loose-canon' cop type of figure, that could have shown Anakin an alternative to the monkish, "stand back and watch" Jedi council. Anakin could have been the young guy who, following what he see's an older guy do, goes to far and then begins the slide to dark side.

          And Darth Maul was the sickest villain since Vader. What a shame. Lucas really needed an story editor who could stand up to him.

          • Dooku was a pretty boring, on screen villain. Sure, manipulative, but in a tired drawn out kind of way. Utterly disposable.

            Maul had an energy to him, a perversion, that told the audience he was really enjoying being a dick. If they'd kept that up in subsequent movies, he would have been a great bad guy, leading in to Palpatine.

            I agree that Qui-gon shouldn't have been killed off in the first movie. I would have preferred to have seen him do half the training of Anakin, resulting in Anakin's somewhat rebe

            • by Gilmoure (18428)

              This. You explained it much better than I could.

              For another movie series that needs help: Star Trek - First Contact

              When the USS Defiant was sent back in time, it shoulda' had Cisco on it. He blamed Picard for his wife's death but with both of them back in time, there coulda' been some cool drama as Cisco and Picard have to get along to fight the Borg.

    • The makes of the original episodes were doing what they could with what they had. I still enjoy the Luke/Vader fight in Ep 5, even though it's fairly slow paced and some of the moves are silly. ESB and RoTJ both have short clips during fights wherein someone is beaten (on the ground), yet the victor continues to pound away his lightsaber at the opponents lightsaber as if he hasn't won yet. This actually looks quite retarded to anyone who knows fighting, and should look so to anyone with critical thinking sk

      • When Luke is pounding on Vadar in Ep 6. he isnt thinking, hes filled with emotion and rage. This should be obvious to anyone with emotions.
        • by BMOC (2478408)
          He's not pounding on Vader. He's pounding on Vader's lightsaber for no reason, which is the equivalent of kicking a wall next to the the guy you're really angry at instead of punching him. The emotion is lost in the stupidity of the action.
      • by bckrispi (725257)

        With the huge exception of the Palpatine/Sam Jackson fight in Ep 3 (which was a f-ing disaster)

        Just out of curiosity, what didn't you like about it? I can see how, from a technical sword fighting perspective, it wasn't that realistic - it was more of an "artistic" fight. But this did not cheapen the emotions of what was at stake during the duel.

  • Not just Star Wars (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NorbrookC (674063) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @10:26AM (#38571560) Journal
    He was the swordmaster behind LOTR and the Princess Bride. His skill was not just being able to do it, but to teach others to do it so it looked right on screen. RIP, Bob Anderson.
    • by YttriumOxide (837412) <<yttriumox> <at> <gmail.com>> on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @10:53AM (#38571786) Homepage Journal

      The Princess Bride has absolutely some of the best swordplay I've ever seen on screen. Obviously the "famous duel" between Inigo and Westley gets a bit silly, but it's intended to be so (and is still really good anyway).

      For reference, I'm pretty handy with a sword myself, so I do know what I'm looking for in "realism" when watching films - most do pretty woefully.

      • Loved the Princess Bride swordfight, but my all-time favorite is Basil Rathbone and Errol Flynn [youtube.com] in Robin Hood.
        • I'll watch that once I get home.

        • Hear Hear, the swordfight there is so epic. It is my Dad's favorite, and he pointed out what real dueling swordplay was like, when that movie was shown on TV.

          If there is one guy who would have taught how to 'laugh out loud, then swing from the chandelier', I believe Bob is the one.

      • I'm pretty handy with a sword myself

        Ghyslain Raza? Is it really you?

      • I've done some fencing, and what always bothered me about that scene was their failure to keep their points on their opponents.

        You should keep the point stable and move the wrist/arm to create a cone of defense.

        Perhaps when using the blade to attack instead of the point, as in sabre, the technique is closer to the PB fight?

        • I've done some fencing, and what always bothered me about that scene was their failure to keep their points on their opponents.

          You should keep the point stable and move the wrist/arm to create a cone of defense.

          Perhaps when using the blade to attack instead of the point, as in sabre, the technique is closer to the PB fight?

          Absolutely... fencing is fairly different to other forms of swordplay. While I'm fairly good with a sword, I've never quite got the hang of fencing.

          It's not just that the blade attacks, but it also defends. A skilled swordfighter will only strike for two reasons:
          1) An attempt to make the other fighter move his sword to a disadvantageous position or body to a disadvantageous stance
          2) An attempt to hit the opponent
          The rest of the time, the sword is used to block the strikes of the opponent, while seeking

    • 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 Gilmoure (18428)

        Was he also the guy who stood in for Basil Rathbone in The Court Jester with Danny Kaye or was that before his time?

    • by Epeeist (2682)
      I was fortunate enough to have a couple of lessons from him here in the UK before he emigrated. A great coach, he will be sadly missed.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    There is another man behind the suit. He did all the public appearances and its his prints that are at Mann's Chinese Theater. Starwars.com did a piece on him back in 2006 but its no longer there.

    Here's a repost of the article: http://com2.runboard.com/bstarwarscollectorreplicapropboard.f7.t109

    I work with him and he's a pretty cool guy. With a little Macallan he'll even reenact some of the scenes.

  • by dtmos (447842) * on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @11:03AM (#38571878)

    It would be interesting to know what he considered to be his greatest professional achievement -- something he did in films, or representing Britain in the 1952 Olympics (where he finished around the median [wikipedia.org] in the Men's Individual Sabre competition, and was on Britain's Men's Sabre Team, which finished tied for fifth place [sports-reference.com]). Or maybe something else.

    Did he view his cinema work positively (e.g., in that he was "bringing fencing to the masses, who otherwise would never see it," or some such), or did he view the work as corrupting a purer art form, that he had to do to support his family? It would be interesting to have heard his thoughts on the matter.

    • Re:One's life's work (Score:4, Interesting)

      by sackbut (1922510) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @12:28PM (#38573002)
      He was very modest about his cinematic achievements and about all of his work. He was head of the Canadian Fencing Association/Federation when I was involved as an athlete at a national/international level. He very much viewed it positively and has been mentioned was a true 'champion' of the sport. He hooked many people on the sport of fencing, as a result of his choreography, teaching and administration he performed.

      As to "corrupting a purer art form": competitive fencing and fencing that looks good on film (to non-fencers) are completely different animals.

      • by dtmos (447842) *

        As to "corrupting a purer art form": competitive fencing and fencing that looks good on film (to non-fencers) are completely different animals.

        Yes, but that's my question -- they are completely different animals. Did it bother him that he couldn't choreograph a competitive fencing example for the screen, but instead had to have people quite literally swing from the rafters to get the mass public to watch?

        I only ask because there are many fields -- IT being one of them -- in which the cinematic version is m

        • by sackbut (1922510)

          I only ask because there are many fields -- IT being one of them -- in which the cinematic version is markedly different from the "real" version. Many of us, I think, if asked by a Hollywood film director to establish an IT character for the screen, would be troubled by the changes from real life needed for the film -- white lab coats and nutty screen displays being just two that come to mind.

          From your description, it sounds like Bob could do so without apparent effort; it would be nice to understand his reasoning so that I could, for example, enjoy the next Hollywood blockbuster without throwing my hands up in disgust part-way through at the technical inaccuracies.

          Which field isn't different in the movies though? A large part of fight choreography is ensuring the actors don't get hurt - even using blunt swords, etc is not enough. "Pulling a punch' fencing does not look good or natural and if you can't pull it then it must be parried - if the other actor forgets to parry then he/she is hurt. Also generally fencing action happens so fast/quickly and often subtly that it really doesn't film well. It looks best from behind your mask and in your brain.

          Like your IT exam

          • by dtmos (447842) *

            My brother-in-law is a film director, and this subject makes up the bulk of the family Thanksgiving dinner discussions every year.

            My position is that Hollywood alienates a large fraction of the potential movie-going public with such inaccuracies: The IT guys give up in disgust from the computer inaccuracies in the first scene, the airplane pilots from the aviation inaccuracies in the second scene, the gardeners from the floral inaccuracies in the third scene, until finally the only people left to watch the

  • Bob was a gentleman in every way. A hard working individual that gave much to the Canadian Olympic teams and individuals. A modest man that taught more than sword play and contributed much to the growth/maturity of many young people. Forever his film legacy will entertain and be enjoyed by many, but also many will remember his other gifts.
    My condolences to his wife and family. May he rest in peace.

  • First, RIP Bob Anderson.

    Some of the critiques are justified for each side, old and slow v. new and fast.

    I always saw Vader v. Obiwan as 2 masters greatly respecting/fearing the ability of the other (15+ years in the making), like two master samurai carefully testing one another near the end of their time. Jedi fighting driods and much lesser skilled foes should be faster paced, or an emotionally driven battle (not very Jedi). A "slower" fight between 2 equal combatants should not be too fast or have Micha

  • Mr. Anderson's family was reportedly mortified when he reappeared at his own funeral as the blue sparkly ghost of Hayden Christensen.
  • RIP, and thanks for all the fun. He spent well his time.

  • It's a little eerie: I just watched the documentary "Reclaiming the Blade" with my friends last night. Bob Anderson was very interesting in it.

It is the quality rather than the quantity that matters. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 B.C. - A.D. 65)

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