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"Best medieval film sword fight?" Topic

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Warspite119 Nov 2023 2:56 p.m. PST

Is this the best (most realistic) film sword fight?

YouTube link

It comes from the climax of Roman Polanski's 1971 version of Macbeth. Both men fight to a point of exhaustion and this fits in well with what re-enactors have told me about a 15-minute time limit for fighting in armour and also echoed by Tom Lewis in his book "Medieval Combat" which suggests an even shorter time period.

More about the film here:


I note, with a smile, that things went wrong on the shoot leading Polanski to refer to special effects as 'special defects'. :)

UK readers may also note that the cast list above has a young Keith Chegwin playing a role. Yeah, Keith Chegwin! :)


torokchar Supporting Member of TMP19 Nov 2023 4:30 p.m. PST

West World, the original.

nnascati Supporting Member of TMP19 Nov 2023 4:55 p.m. PST

The Last Duel?

Hey You Supporting Member of TMP19 Nov 2023 7:42 p.m. PST

Well its later than the medieval period I think but it's my favorite.


Deucey Supporting Member of TMP19 Nov 2023 8:27 p.m. PST

Excalibur. Arthur vs Lancelot

Cattle Dog19 Nov 2023 9:11 p.m. PST

The Adventures of Robin Hood 1938. Staring Errol Flynn sword fighting against Basil Rathbone MC and former British Army Fencing Champion.

DrSkull20 Nov 2023 4:50 a.m. PST

Not anything with Charlton Heston.

As much as I love the movie El Cid, and the big tournament duel against Don Martin (insert Mad Magazine joke here), old Chuck always seems so lanky and awkward in his fight scenes.

ZULUPAUL Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2023 4:51 a.m. PST

+2 Cattle Dog

BillyNM20 Nov 2023 6:07 a.m. PST

Not medieval, but some of the swords might've been – the swordfight in 'Die Another Day'.

Deucey Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2023 7:02 a.m. PST


YouTube link

Go to the 4:50 mark

Prince Alberts Revenge20 Nov 2023 7:54 a.m. PST

The King (2019) the duel between Hotspur and Henry.


Raynman Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2023 8:20 a.m. PST

+3 Cattle Dog!

Deucey Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2023 8:22 a.m. PST

If you liked Robin Hood's sword fight, you'll love Court Jester!

Basil Rathbone vs Danny Kaye

But we have strayed FAR from the original topic😂

blacksmith20 Nov 2023 10:07 a.m. PST

Scaramouche, the prisoner of Zenda.

Deucey Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2023 10:36 a.m. PST

I didn't watch The King.

Is that supposed to be the "battle" of Shrewsbury?

Grattan54 Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2023 11:15 a.m. PST

+4 Cattle Dog

Perris070720 Nov 2023 11:31 a.m. PST

Yep. Cattle Dog for the win.

42flanker20 Nov 2023 1:08 p.m. PST

"Think of this. A sword is like a bird. If you clutch it too tightly, you choke it – too lightly and it flies away!"

smithsco20 Nov 2023 3:28 p.m. PST

Robin Hood Men in Tights

Cattle Dog20 Nov 2023 5:19 p.m. PST

Cattle Dogs Rule!

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2023 9:50 p.m. PST

Well, not medieval, but The Four Musketeers' the fight on the ice, D'Artagnan vs. Rochefort (Michael York vs. Christopher Lee) is stunning. And it all looks very real.

This should not be surprising, as Christopher Lee was an expert swordsman. When filming The Lord of the Rings, he used to lead live armored sword fights with the cast and crew alongside veteran stuntman and combat choreographer Bob Anderson, Sword Master and former Olympic fencer for England. (Lee injured his hand in one of these combats while filming The Fellowship of the Ring. In the sequence where Saruman is greeted by orcs in his library chambers in Orthanc, Lee's hand is wrapped in his robes to hide the wound and bandages.
And of course, Bob Anderson was the choreographer for The Four Musketeers

Actual medieval sword play is a bit harder to find, at least well done and not just banging swords together.

But the final joust & melee in Ivanhoe (1953) is a good one. Not so much swordplay as axe vs. morning star flail, even on horseback! Worth the watch.

42flanker21 Nov 2023 3:48 a.m. PST

The swordplay in the Richard Lester 'Musketeers' films was in fact arranged by the incomparable, late Bill Hobbs, who off course was fight arranger on the Duellists. His screen work spanned Olivier's 'Othello' to 'Game of Thrones' (his last credit)
A select CV (Medieval, Renaissance & a bit o' Fantasy)reads:
Othello (1965)
The Tragedy of Macbeth (1971)
The Three Musketeers (1973)
The Four Musketeers (1974)
The Legend of Robin Hood (1975)
Robin and Marian (1976)
Excalibur (1981)
King Lear (1983)
The Return of the Musketeers (1989)
Cyrano de Bergerac (1990)
Hamlet (1990)
Robin Hood (1991)
Rob Roy (1995)
The Man in the Iron Mask (1998)
Don Quixote (2000)
Game of Thrones (2011)

Deucey Supporting Member of TMP21 Nov 2023 6:28 a.m. PST

This started life as REALISTIC MEDIEVAL sword fight.

Boy do we have trouble staying focused!!!

Obsessive gamers? More like ADD.

I say this in fun of course!😂

42flanker21 Nov 2023 1:47 p.m. PST

One man's REALISTIC might be another man's TRUTHFUL.

MacColla22 Nov 2023 11:05 a.m. PST

Robin and Marian seconded!

ROUWetPatchBehindTheSofa23 Nov 2023 5:55 a.m. PST

There's a nicely choreographed sequence in Ironclad where the protagonist despatches a bunch of extras with a two-handed sword though I its something of an anachronism on several levels in terms of the films alleged setting and almost certainly owes a lot to much later medieval European manuals.

SpuriousMilius24 Nov 2023 9:20 a.m. PST

I vote for Flynn & Rathbone, also. Cyrano is good, too.

Sandinista06 Dec 2023 8:51 p.m. PST

No mentions for the Princess Bride?

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