Swordsmanship on the silver screen
On another occasion, I’m struck before I’ve barely had time to breathe and, on another, he just catches me on the wrist after a valiant defensive effort on my part. With Georgina encouraging me like Yoda on the sidelines, I finally rally and propel myself forward, managing to strike Paul unawares. Ha! I feel exhausted, but also exhilarated, despite my lack of co-ordination.
As we remove our masks and shake hands, I appreciate the guile, grace and speed of thought required to succeed at this game. It’s a marvellous test, mentally and physically.
Later, I tease Georgina about the thriving social scene that surrounds the sport. Surely the reigning Commonwealth Champion should be treating her body like a temple—she is an athlete after all. In true non-conformist style, she replies with a smile: ‘I don’t see myself as an athlete— I’m a fencer.’ For details of how to take up the sport, contact British Fencing (www.britishfencing.com; 020– 8742 3032. With thanks to The Lansdowne Club (020–7629 7200; www.lansdowneclub.com) for hosting the author’s lesson
Rob Roy (1995)
The valiant clan chief (Liam Neeson) challenges the cruel Archibald Cunningham (Tim Roth) to a fight to the death in a realistic interpretation of what a formal duel of honour would have been like (above)
The Mask of Zorro (1998)
Starring Antonio Banderas—who practised his duelling skills with the Spanish Olympic fencing team for four months for the role—and Anthony Hopkins, this fast and furious film features a number of dramatic sword fights
Star Wars (1977–2015)
Who doesn’t enjoy the Jedi in action?
The Princess Bride (1987)
The sword fight on the Cliffs of Insanity is one of the best cinematic duels of all time
Pirates of the Caribbean (2003–2017)
Awash with swashbuckling fantasy
Die Another Day (2002)
After innuendo queen and fencing instructor Verity (Madonna) drops a couple of clangers, James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) and his adversary, Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens), tear up the fictional fencing club Blades (filmed at London’s Reform Club)