Honestly if you want to know about how real something is you tend to go to an expert. When it comes to sword-fighting a lot of people are instantly amazed by what they see in movies and on TV, which is only natural if they have no idea of what really happens in a sword-fight. However, if you any inkling of what swords are about and what might really happen in a fight then you could possibly realize that the sword fights in the movies are a great deal of exaggeration and movie magic that doesn’t make a lot of sense when it comes to reality.
As an example, one great point the expert in this clip makes is what you don’t hear when you unsheathe the blade. There is typically no ringing of metal as you’ll hear in the movies, which is a very energizing sound since it means that something monumental and very dangerous is about to go down. In reality there is no such sound when you draw a blade. In fact metal on metal contact is not always great for a sword, especially when it’s prolonged.
So let’s get into what’s real and what’s fantasy.
Face it, 300 is a cinematic masterpiece, but it’s not accurate. Spartans fought in formation, they did’t run out to engage the enemy. Their shield wall was something that opponents actually learned to fear since behind that wall the Spartans could push forward and kill at will. Plus throwing your weapon and using your shield as an added weapon seems awesome and extremely cool in the movies but it wasn’t always the common practice if you still had a blade in your hand. The shield was there for defense mainly, not as a secondary weapon.
The biggest sin here, to me, would be the fact that she can take on this many sword-wielding opponents and come out with only a few nicks and scratches. But her technique seems pretty sound until she displays the ability to soar to the upper balcony as though she weighs nothing. The act of forcing her opponents to come at her one at a time though is quite valid and does present a very sound battle tactic. The action of looking into the reflection caused by her blade is also pretty smart.
Gladiator’s were known to be tough, and they were known to play to the crowd. But one man mowing down this many gladiators without a care in the world while the rest of them stood by looking on seems too Hollywood to be believed. And yes, the beheading scene is a bit much since not only do you not want to find your arms crossed in the middle of a battle, the cutting motion with two blades makes no sense when taking someone’s head off with a blade.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl
This was more of a fun, acrobatic fight than a real down and dirty sword fight to be honest but the skill and use of their environment made it all the better. Unfortunately a glowing hot sword would likely bend or break with so many hard impacts and would become useless very quickly, much quicker than is seen in the movie. Plus, stopping to talk to each other is a good way to allow the other fighter an advantage.
Lord of the Rings
The way the swords are presented is very impressive. But with a warrior of Aragorn’s skill and experience one would think that he would be finding weak points in the armor of his opponents rather than swing at them like a batter seeking a home run. But then there are a lot of them and he does need to clear a path. Plus, his salute is pretty cool as he wades into an entire hillside of enemies.
So quite honestly a lot of sword-fighting in movies is pure Hollywood movie magic with some training and accuracy thrown in to make it look better. It’s not perfect, but it’s not always meant to be.