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George Hill




Location: Atlanta Ga
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PostPosted: Sat 07 Oct, 2006 11:19 pm    Post subject: Movie fights...         Reply with quote

We've all seen movie fights of all kinds. I just watched the trailor for the new movie '300' about the Spartans, and all I can think is... Who here would like to see a movie with Stephen Hand, Christian Tobler, Paul Wagner, and other such men as the fight directors?
To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Sun 08 Oct, 2006 1:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Would I like to see it? Yes. Then again, I'm part of a special interest group that is a distinct minority when compared to the rest of our society. Stage combat serves several purposes: to progress the story, develop and enhance character and to entertain. It has never been intended to serve as an educational venue. Combat performed using proper technique and form might not achieve any of these things. In the end I'm on the fence.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sun 08 Oct, 2006 8:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Genuine fighting would probably be too fast for the eye to follow and too short to stretch out into an exiting scene !

Although the quick and efficient dispatching of an opponent, when credible, his impressive in a different way and could work in some films: I can't remember a specific example but in Japanese " classic" samurai films a master will dispose of inferior swordsmen very quickly and the very quickness sells us on the idea that he is a very very scary fighter.

When masters oppose each other one sees a lot of move and counter move changing guards and reacting to changing guards with little real action happening until one or the other takes advantage of a perceived error: The fight then ends with a lighting fast strike or counter strike with one or both fighters wounded or dead. The previous I think being true with real duels as well as well an authentic film fights.

But still there is a place for long stage fights in movies for the sake of entertainment and not as education about real techniques.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Mikko Kuusirati




Location: Finland
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PostPosted: Sun 08 Oct, 2006 9:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
Genuine fighting would probably be too fast for the eye to follow and too short to stretch out into an exiting scene !

One could say the same about gunfights. But then, one could take a look at Sergio Leone and be proven wrong. Happy

Quote:
Although the quick and efficient dispatching of an opponent, when credible, his impressive in a different way and could work in some films: I can't remember a specific example but in Japanese " classic" samurai films a master will dispose of inferior swordsmen very quickly and the very quickness sells us on the idea that he is a very very scary fighter.

Anything by Kurosawa, basically - The Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, etc.

Heck, even the Zatoichi movies - both the original series and the more recent Takeshi Kitano remake -, about a blind masseuse/gambler/swordsman, all feature extremely quick and lethal fights, mostly ending within a stroke or two.

The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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George Hill




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PostPosted: Sun 08 Oct, 2006 10:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick, I've heard the idea that stage combat is intended to be flashy and unrealistic, and in a movie like the Matrix, I'm inclinded to look the other way.

On the other hand, in the clip I watched from 300, It shows them specifically moving their shields completely to the side when attacking, even if the attack doesn't need to have the shield moved an inch.

There was a documentry on Gladiators which wasn't very different. The gladiator attacked with his sword, rushing over to hit the other fellow.... by running around his own shield and leaving it behind him.

This sort of thing is insulting to the memory of those people, to think they would do something as silly as to completely uncover themselves. It's atrocious and disgraceful! Even if you don't know how they did fight, at least use a tiny bit of brains in the fight direction! As it is, it feels like the people doing the directing do not even have a basic concept of what a shield is.

Then you have the whole "Both lines will charge each other at the same time, everyone will get mixed up, but no one will get stabbed in the back" routine of battle scenes. Sad



What's more, is that we don't really know how audences would react to realistic swordplay. There have only been one or two movies with it. Rob Roy is usually quoted, and it's become a cult classic amoung... us. What about the general audence? That's worth looking into..

Jean, you're right it might be too fast to follow, but not if we use super slowmo on the camera, and slow down the action.

But yes, Samurai movies tend to use more or less realistic swordplay, and everyone likes them. Why can't we have a few samurai movies which feature Knights instead of Samurai?

I was thinking this morning that a simple movie to do with be basically to more or less steal the plot of "Rocky" or "The Karate kid" but the end fight is a judical duel with Longswords or Pollaxes, and instead of Mr. Miyagi we have say, Talhoffer. (Maybe change the name, but you get the idea.) This could be done on a low budget, be a good movie, and be realistic!

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Martin Wallgren




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Oct, 2006 4:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

George Hill wrote:
Patrick, I've heard the idea that stage combat is intended to be flashy and unrealistic, and in a movie like the Matrix, I'm inclinded to look the other way.

On the other hand, in the clip I watched from 300, It shows them specifically moving their shields completely to the side when attacking, even if the attack doesn't need to have the shield moved an inch.

There was a documentry on Gladiators which wasn't very different. The gladiator attacked with his sword, rushing over to hit the other fellow.... by running around his own shield and leaving it behind him.

This sort of thing is insulting to the memory of those people, to think they would do something as silly as to completely uncover themselves. It's atrocious and disgraceful! Even if you don't know how they did fight, at least use a tiny bit of brains in the fight direction! As it is, it feels like the people doing the directing do not even have a basic concept of what a shield is.

Then you have the whole "Both lines will charge each other at the same time, everyone will get mixed up, but no one will get stabbed in the back" routine of battle scenes. Sad



What's more, is that we don't really know how audences would react to realistic swordplay. There have only been one or two movies with it. Rob Roy is usually quoted, and it's become a cult classic amoung... us. What about the general audence? That's worth looking into..

Jean, you're right it might be too fast to follow, but not if we use super slowmo on the camera, and slow down the action.

But yes, Samurai movies tend to use more or less realistic swordplay, and everyone likes them. Why can't we have a few samurai movies which feature Knights instead of Samurai?

I was thinking this morning that a simple movie to do with be basically to more or less steal the plot of "Rocky" or "The Karate kid" but the end fight is a judical duel with Longswords or Pollaxes, and instead of Mr. Miyagi we have say, Talhoffer. (Maybe change the name, but you get the idea.) This could be done on a low budget, be a good movie, and be realistic!


Brilliant idea!

And with the amount of reenactors who can provide extras in good dress around today, the accurasy could be really good in such a movie. If one put a Dogma attitude to the filming it could be quite cheap to do.

Swordsman, Archer and Dad
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Oct, 2006 5:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

George Hill wrote:

On the other hand, in the clip I watched from 300, It shows them specifically moving their shields completely to the side when attacking, even if the attack doesn't need to have the shield moved an inch.


I agree on the shield isue. Regardless of any accuracy issues the shield is often nothing more than a counterweight in a theatrical fight and I'd like to see them used more. The only thing typically thrown away more quickly than the shield in a theatrical fight is the helmet.
Eek!

After looking at the trailer for 300, for me it's automatically in the same class as the old Steve Reeves sword and sandal movies. There are no claims to historical accuracy so I suppose they're free to follow their personal vision. However, I would have prefered to see a movie made from Stephen Pressfields Gates of Fire, a quality novel dealing with the same subject, rather than a comic book. Both of my sons are heavily involved with that particular hobby but I refuse to call them novels, graphic or otherwise. A novel should have the written word as its emphasis, not pretty illustrations.


Quote:
What's more, is that we don't really know how audences would react to realistic swordplay. There have only been one or two movies with it. Rob Roy is usually quoted, and it's become a cult classic amoung... us. What about the general audence? That's worth looking into..


Yes, Rob Roy is often used as an example, and uselessly so since it's no more accurate or realistic than any other stage fight. It is a very good stage fight, because the actors are talented and infuse the scene with intent and emotion. The fight is also the culmination of the entire story, which is well written and builds well to this climax. These are the reasons why Rob Roy works. The techniques are typical stage combat, but well done stage combat.

Quote:
Jean, you're right it might be too fast to follow, but not if we use super slowmo on the camera, and slow down the action.


So you want to use technology to enhance something you want to see as more realistic? Isn't that a bit counterproductive?
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Martin Wilkinson





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PostPosted: Mon 09 Oct, 2006 5:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I was going to say, that in Rob Roy, love that movie as much as i do, they swing basket hilts like they weigh a tonne.

And the small sword in used to cut alittle too much.

"A bullet you see may go anywhere, but steel's, almost bound to go somewhere."

Schola Gladiatoria
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Mikko Kuusirati




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Oct, 2006 12:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
After looking at the trailer for 300, for me it's automatically in the same class as the old Steve Reeves sword and sandal movies. There are no claims to historical accuracy so I suppose they're free to follow their personal vision. However, I would have prefered to see a movie made from Stephen Pressfields Gates of Fire, a quality novel dealing with the same subject, rather than a comic book.

AFAIK, an adaptation of Gates of Fire is being planned, and has been for some time. The two projects are in no way mutually exclusive - in fact, if 300 does well it might give a boost to similar films and actually help bring about GoF.

And let's not forget 300 makes no claim what-so-ever at historical accuracy - it's just badass fiction loosely based on a true story. Hollywood marketing has a bad habit of selling fiction as fact, though... remember King Arthur, anyone?

Quote:
Both of my sons are heavily involved with that particular hobby but I refuse to call them novels, graphic or otherwise. A novel should have the written word as its emphasis, not pretty illustrations.

Well, technically, the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines "a novel" as "an invented prose narrative that is usually long and complex and deals especially with human experience through a usually connected sequence of events." Even most all-text fiction doesn't fit all of that. Words adapt and change meaning over time, and in different contexts - you're probably holding a "mouse" right now, as a case in point. Happy

Comics are a unique combination of different arts - the visual artwork, the written word, the rhythm and pacing of cinema or music, the printed medium of conventional books, etc... The focus on the different aspects can vary wildly, some being little more than illustrated narratives (like the excerpts from the fictional pirate comic in Watchmen), some having no text at all (for ex, Moebius's 40 Days Dans La Desert), and most hitting some point of balance in between. Yet the result manages to remain a distinctive artform in its own right.

No offense meant, but I find the notion that they're somehow not worthy of the term "novel" somewhat... old-timey. "You damn kids get offa my lawn! And take yer brain-rottin' funny pages with ya!" Happy

Quote:
So you want to use technology to enhance something you want to see as more realistic? Isn't that a bit counterproductive?

Merely counterintuitive. You'd be shocked at how much technology and hard work it takes to get natural-looking, realistic lighting for a photograph or film shoot, for ex, even (or especially!) in broad daylight...

The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Roger Hooper




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Oct, 2006 1:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One difference between old-timer novels and graphic novels/comic books - in the first, you create pictures in your mind in a creative partnership with the words - in the second, the pictures are provided for you, and you are merely the passive receiver. I like the ones made by my own mind's eye better.

Graphic novels can supply only a small fraction of the nuance and complexity provided by novels that use language only.
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Oct, 2006 1:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You're right Mikko, I am old fashioned in the respect that I prefer a written work that relies on literary prose to exercise my mind and imagination, rather than serving me up illustrations and dictating the image for me while supplying sophomoric writing. Along with video games "comic books" represent the dumbing down of the human mind. That's just my opinion and in no way meant to be definitive. To each his own.

Quote:
You'd be shocked at how much technology and hard work it takes to get natural-looking, realistic lighting for a photograph or film shooteven (or especially!) in broad daylight...


Having worked in the theatre once upon a time it doesn't shock me in the least.
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Mikko Kuusirati




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Oct, 2006 2:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
You're right Mikko, I am old fashioned in the respect that I prefer a written work that relies on literary prose to exercise my mind and imagination, rather than serving me up illustrations and dictating the image for me while supplying sophomoric writing. "Comic books" represent the dumbing down of the human mind. That's just my opinion and in no way meant to be definitive. To each his own.

Of course, there are comics, and then there are comics - it seems most Americans use "comics" as a synonym for "mainstream superheroes" or DC and Marvel, whereas when I think "comics" it's everything from Winsor McCay's Little Nemo through Morris and Goscinny's Lucky Luke and Alan Moore's Watchmen to the Hernandez brothers' Love and Rockets... and a ton of things besides.

Plus, I've encountered just as much "sophomoric" writing in conventional novels as I have in comics - I'll take Kazuo Koike or Enki Bilal over Terry Brooks or Robert Jordan any single day. Comics is a medium, not a level of quality, and I find it perplexing that we revere both fine arts and writing, even cinema, but look down on their combination.

Quote:
Having worked in the theatre once upon a time it doesn't shock me in the least.

You know, I just knew stating it as an absolute like that would come around and bite me in the ass... Big Grin

The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Oct, 2006 4:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Plus, I've encountered just as much "sophomoric" writing in conventional novels as I have in comics - I'll take Kazuo Koike or Enki Bilal over Terry Brooks or Robert Jordan any single day.


Sadly, we are in agreement on all of those points.

Quote:
Comics is a medium, not a level of quality, and I find it perplexing that we revere both fine arts and writing, even cinema, but look down on their combination.


Very true but I suppose it's a matter of degree and in the end it's a personal opinion as to what does and does not constitute art. There's really no definitive answer on that one.


Quote:
"Having worked in the theatre once upon a time it doesn't shock me in the least. "

You know, I just knew stating it as an absolute like that would come around and bite me in the ass...


Wink Big Grin
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Geoff Wood




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Oct, 2006 4:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
You're right Mikko, I am old fashioned in the respect that I prefer a written work that relies on literary prose to exercise my mind and imagination, rather than serving me up illustrations and dictating the image for me while supplying sophomoric writing. Along with video games "comic books" represent the dumbing down of the human mind. That's just my opinion and in no way meant to be definitive. To each his own.



Despite being way older than either of you, I'd have to side with Mikko on this one. There can be good or bad in any medium. Personally I find current mainstream cinema and TV more often at fault for dumbing down, which kind of goes back to the topic. I see Patrick's point that it may risk not being entertaining, but I would like to see WMA equivalents of some of the Japanese classics, wherein weapons were used rather more realistically. Of course, not even the enthusiasts on this site would necessarily agree as to what use would be realistic (e.g. 'he's holding that sword incorrectly', 'that arrow would never go through that armour', etc. etc.), but we could possibly find concensus on avoiding some of the more obvious faults.
Geoff
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Steve Grisetti




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Oct, 2006 5:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm chiming in a little bit late, here, but, what the heck.
Patrick Kelly wrote:
... Stage combat serves several purposes: to progress the story, develop and enhance character and to entertain ....

I agree completely. Of course, I am not a trained swordsman, so I will miss a lot of tactical goofs that might bother you folks with more experience. I also think that the standards that must be met for stage fighting to be believable have increased over the years. I just watched two films, one night after the other. These films illustrated, what seemed to me to be, a large change in the standards over the years. The first film I watched was the recent "Count of Monte Cristo", and I felt that the fight choreography was very well done, in that it met the purposes that Patrick outlined. The second film that I watched was "The Adventures of Robin Hood", with Errol Flynn, Olivia deHavilland, et al. In that case, the stage combat was extremely entertaining, because it was hilariously unrealistic, but I guess it met the realism standards of 1938.

Patrick Kelly wrote:
... I am old fashioned in the respect that I prefer a written work that relies on literary prose to exercise my mind and imagination, rather than serving me up illustrations and dictating the image for me while supplying sophomoric writing ....

Yeah, and I'll bet you don't use the words "rap" and "music" in the same sentence, either. Laughing Out Loud Laughing Out Loud Actually, neither do I.

"...dismount thy tuck, be yare in thy preparation, for thy assailant is quick, skilful, and deadly."
- Sir Toby Belch
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Oct, 2006 5:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Steve wrote:
Yeah, and I'll bet you don't use the words "rap" and "music" in the same sentence, either. Actually, neither do I.


Some things are just wrong on a fundemental level. Big Grin

I don't really mind if stage combat is mechanically perfect or not but I do like it to be plausible. Rob Roy has been mentioned and The Duellists is another good example. Neither movie is really accurate in the swordsmanship styles portrayed but the moves are at least plausible and potrayed with conviction and intent. Other examples like Highlander and Conan the Barbarian feature protagonists slamming swords into rocks and concrete pillars with little or no damage to the weapon. Things like that tend to strain my suspension of disbelief.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Oct, 2006 7:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

On the parallel (B) running topic of comics or graphic novels I can say that " English Language " comic books of the 1955 to 1965 period are probably the main reason I speak and write English since French is my first language and English as a second language was very poor in quality: I remember having the teachers asking ME how to pronounce some English words in class as I knew English better than they did !

Although I am not a " knowledgeable fan " of graphic novels being a graphic artist I might make a graphic novel some day when I am feeling less lazy Wink Razz

Back to the (A) main topic of realism in film swordfights: Some sort of typology of swordfights

Type X: Completely unbelievable, boring, badly choreographed.
Type Xa; Completely unbelievable, entertaining, well choreographed.

Type XI: Believable but still stage fighting, badly choreographed.
Type XIa: Believable but still stage fighting, well choreographed.

Type XII: Mix of credible and stage fighting very real looking to those not practising or knowledgeable of real swordsmanship.

Type XIII: Mostly accurate real techniques with some stage fighting for plot and entertainment reasons that would satisfy both a general audience and experts practitioners i.e. all plausible / possible techniques even if pushed to improbable levels of skill or luck ! Again, entertainment being a priority.

Type XIV: Real fighting so accurate it should be a training DVD that would have appeal only to students of swordsmanship.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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George Hill




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Oct, 2006 8:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not particularly fond of comics myself, but some are quite good. One seires, "The Maxx" was excellent, as it was all about psychological ramifactions of this and that, with spirit animals thrown in for good measure.

As to movie fights, the camera work used to show the action is secondary to the action being....good. And realism is as realism does. Most people like realistic action when they see it.

I remember I was talking to someone about swords, and he was asking me all sorts of questions, and eventually he asked abut some movie, and when I told him to ignore those he said, "Ah, so it's like cars! If it's in the movies, it's wrong!"

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Geoff Wood




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PostPosted: Tue 10 Oct, 2006 1:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

George Hill wrote:

I remember I was talking to someone about swords, and he was asking me all sorts of questions, and eventually he asked abut some movie, and when I told him to ignore those he said, "Ah, so it's like cars! If it's in the movies, it's wrong!"


Yep. Same goes for planes, tanks, ships, diseases, appropriate wildlife etc.. etc.....
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A. Jake Storey II




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PostPosted: Fri 13 Oct, 2006 4:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hmmm... interesting. I find unrealistic fights in movies to be A) a source of comic relief, and B) a good way to go to sleep when having a hard time of it. But then I come across movies where I have a hard time picking fact from fiction. The Lord Of The Rings is a good example. Some of it hits (pun intended) as something that is plausible, than something will strike (pun, again, intended) as laughable. What do those with more experience then me have to say?
Only you can deny yourself your rights.
Too ignore the rights of others, is to forfeit you own!
Thereby, in your crime, YOU bring Justice on your own head!!!
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