Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Ok, fine, I'm a joiner

Bob doubling for Vader. So cool.
At least, I am today, and I am about this: Bob Anderson has died. He was the greatest sword-fighting choreographer in Hollywood, and he passed away at 89.

The reason I'm a joiner is that I wasn't going to post about this at all. I read this news on New Year's day, while recovering from my night of fun. I immediately knew the name (of course), and felt sad to hear of Bob's death. But I figured that the tribute I saw on AICN was good enough, and I don't like chiming in unless I have something special to do say or write.

Forget all that. Just becase AICN and AV Club put in their two cents doesn't mean that I shouldn't. His death is very much like the passing of John Barry last year, so I'll just keep it short and simple.

Bob Anderson fought for the UK in WWII. In the 1950's, he represented them in the Olympics as a fencer. One year after the Olympics, he worked with Errol Flynn on The Master of Ballantrae; it was there that he gained a reputation, and one of the niftier stories in a career that was full of them.

The reason I write about Bob now is plain: he staged some of the best fights ever filmed. This is part of why I wasn't going to mention this. The sources I noted above did exactly what they needed to: they described his life and embedded two videos, the awesome Montoya-Roberts in The Princess Bride and Luke vs Vader in The Empire Strikes Back.

I mean, really - 'nuff said, right?

After thinking about it, I realized it was he deserved as much attention as I gave to John Barry. Anderson was also someone who worked behind the scenes, making a contribution to cinema that was profound. Everyone enjoys the two scenes I mentioned above, but whether it's Zorro or The Lord of the Rings movies (the whole cast mentions Bob often in the DVD extras), his work was strong and well-loved.

As with John Barry, Bob Anderson continued working right up until he passed. His most recent work was for The Hobbit, which comes out at the end of this year. And he was mentioned often in a 2009 documentary on cinematic sword-fighting Reclaiming the Blade.

As sad as it his that this man is gone, it's kind of appropriate that the choreographer for Highlander neither burned out nor faded away. Thanks for making some of the best moments in movie history, Mr. Anderson. Rest in peace.

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