Flash and clash

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/1937576″>The Sword Fights of Errol Flynn</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user219614″>Russ McClay</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

This lovingly compiled selection of swordfight sequences from Errol Flynn movies is tremendous fun to watch, but it does show how by-the-numbers Hollywood could get with its blade choreography. How many recurring themes can you spot? The nose-to-nose clinch between hero and sneering villain? The attempt to add suspense by having the  hero tumble down stairs or stumble over furniture? The gallantry of the hero, who returns the villain’s dropped blade rather than put an end to it? Did every cinematographer’s contract require the use of huge shadows in the background?

Now compare all that with the emotional intensity and character revelation in this sequence:

Here is my argument for why Rob Roy is the best swordfight movie of all time, and why those duels in Errol Flynn movies never rise above standard flash and clash.

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4 thoughts on “Flash and clash

  1. [...] while, but credit author Steven Hart for getting me off the snide with his post from last May, Flash and clash. His article looked at the by-the-numbers swordplay Hollywood has put out over the years. This [...]

  2. [...] of a film that I, like others, hold dear. I credit author Steven Hart and his post from last May, Flash and clash, for spurring me on. Since this article will focus on the ultimate and crucial sequence of the [...]

  3. Rachel says:

    Hello! I just wanted to say that I enjoyed your entries on great cinematic swordfighting very much. I’m glad you have a nostalgic fondness for old-school Hollywood flashy fights even though you rightly prefer the more richly characterized and individualized coreography of the top films you’ve highlighted. I wanted to mention, in case you haven’t seen it, that one of my favorite swordfights is a firmly tongue-in-cheek, yet wonderfully frenetic and (dare I say it) well-characterized fight in the film “The Court Jester” with Danny Kaye and an older Basil Rathbone. It’s designed to be by turns a delightful spoof of the Robin Hood style showdowns and a spectacular showpiece of flash in its own right. If you haven’t seen it before, I think you might enjoy it :)

  4. Thanks! I’ll add that one to my must-see list.

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