Star Wars’ Phantom Menace Lightsaber Fight Was Decided By A Five-Year-Old – SlashFilm


As Gillard recalled in a deep-dive into the making of “The Phantom Menace” lightsaber battle at Vulture, “George has never been in a fight in his life. So he didn’t bother, really, writing it. It would say something like, ‘A vicious lightsaber battle ensues — seven minutes,’ and you could fill in the gap there. But that’s much better for me.”

Up until this point, the lightsaber fights in “Star Wars” hadn’t exactly delivered fast-paced sword combat. Instead, much of the original lightsaber duels were inspired by elegant fencing techniques. Though Luke Skywalker’s style in “Return of the Jedi” is a little more energetic and chaotic, fueled by his anger as he faces his father, Darth Vader, the rest of the battles are patient, calculated, and slow. That’s why Gillard completely ignored those lightsaber battles when it come to creating the two-on-one fight in “Phantom Menace.” As Lucas recalled in a behind-the-scenes documentary, “I thought I wanted a faster version of what the other movies were; a more energetic version; and that’s basically what he gave me.”

In fact, Lucas had instructed Gillard to “come up with a new kind of martial art,” which the stunt coordinator described as “an amalgamation of all sword fighting.” Kendo, rapier, samurai, and a little bit of tennis and even chopping down trees informed the rapid battle between the two Jedi and the Sith apprentice. All of this combined to give each of the warriors a level of mastery in wielding a lightsaber where everything had to be precise as well as fast. Gillard added, “They can only parry there, they can only attack there. The moves are so natural or so correct, that’s the only place they can be.”

Armed with his new approach to lightsaber fights, Gillard took three days, a small camera crew, and a trio of stuntmen to shoot test footage that would be used to get approval from George Lucas. Among those stuntmen was none other than Ray Park, suggested by a friend of Gillard who worked with the stuntman on “Mortal Kombat.”

But when the time came to show off the test footage, George Lucas wasn’t the only person they needed to impress.

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