The new fantasy adventure film The Last Witch Hunter, starring Vin Diesel, opens in Irish cinemas on October 21st. Vin Diesel is Kaulder, The Last Witch Hunter – the only one of his kind remaining and the only thing standing between humanity and its destruction at the hands of the evil witches that secretly live amongst us. Kaulder’s weapon used to kill witches is a monumental sword of fire which takes flames when about to attack witches. The sword has long been a major feature of key moments in cinematic history, so we thought this was a good opportunity to take a look back at some of the best examples of epic swords in film history.
Kaulder’s sword of flames: The Last Witch Hunter (2015)
The thoroughly original fantasy adventure, The Last Witch Hunter propels audiences into a complex mythological universe packed with intense battles, unthinkable treachery and unforgettable characters. Set in a world never before seen on screen, the story spans over 800 years of one man’s quest to keep an army of vicious supernatural creatures determined to wipe out humanity at bay. Global action hero Vin Diesel produces and stars as Kaulder, the centuries-old guardian of the human world who has lost his family, friends and perhaps even his hope in the battle against the dark forces, where he uses a sword of flames to kill his prey – the witches.
Excalibur – Excalibur (1981)
Excalibur, the dramatic sword and sorcery film directed, produced and co-written by John Boorman, retells the legend of King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table. The film is named after the legendary sword of King Arthur, sometimes attributed with magical powers or associated with the rightful sovereignty of Great Britain. Shot entirely on location in Ireland and employing Irish actors and crew, the film has been acknowledged for its importance to the Irish filmmaking industry and for helping launch the film careers of Neeson, as well as Gabriel Byrne, Neil Jordan and Ciarán Hinds.
Andúril – Lord of the Rings
While not possessing any magical powers, Andúril “The Flame of the West” is one of the most famous swords in fantasy fiction–if only because it was the sword of Aragorn. Originally wielded by Aragorn’s ancestor Elendil, Narsil was broken when Elendil first defeated Sauron. Elendil’s son used the shards of the sword to cut the One Ring from Sauron’s hand. Thousands of years later, it was reforged by the Elves into Andúril and given to Aragorn, who used it throughout the War of the Ring. In the films, Elrond gives the sword to Aragorn much later, in Return of the King.
The Bride’s Hattori Hanzo Sword – Kill Bill
Quentin Tarantino is well known for making references to obscure films and TV shows and Hattori Hanzo is no different. A historical figure famed for his skills as a Ninja, Hattori Hanzo became the subject for a series of martial arts films starring Sonny Chiba. These films have seen little attention outside of Japan however, Tarantino has certainly seen them and decided to cast Chiba in his ode to the martial arts genre, Kill Bill. In Kill Bill Hanzo is a master sword maker and crafts a blade of unrivalled quality for The Bride. Many characters in Kill Bill have a Hanzo sword but the master himself credits The Bride’s blade as his finest work. An emblem for The Bride (Uma Thurman) and her vengeance streak, this sword takes out an entire fleet of Yakuza.
Luke Skywalker’s Lightsaber – Star Wars
Designed as much for elegance in combat as for ceremony, the lightsaber, also referred to as the “laser sword”, was a distinctive weapon, the very image of which was inextricably bound with the mythos of the Jedi Order and their polar opposites, the Sith. It was throughout the film series to cut through blast doors or enemies alike while also becaming synonymous with the Jedi Order’s values to uphold peace and justice throughout the galaxy.
After dropping his blue lightsaber (along with a hand) in The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) builds his own green lightsaber. By building his own lightsaber, Luke accomplished what is known as the “Lightsaber Creation Trial,” one of the final trials in the long list of trials needed to become a Jedi. The distinctive sound of the lightsaber has gone on to accompany millions of childhood stick fights worldwide.
Godric Gryffindor’s Sword – Harry Potter
Said to appear whenever a true Gryffindor needed it, the sword of Godric Gryffindor plays a key role in the Harry Potter saga. Forged by goblins and enhanced by the blood of a basilisk, the sword was one of the only things that could destroy a Horcrux. It also had a tendency to pop out of the Sorting Hat, and does so for both Harry and Neville Longbottom in their hour of greatest need. It is first pulled out by Harry Potter in Chamber of Secrets and then by Neville Longbottom in the Deathly Hallows and used to kill the last horcrux – Nagini the snake. The sword absorbs any substance that will strengthen it; for example, if immersed in poison, it gains the ability to poison its target, and rejects any substance that would damage or tarnish it.
The Claymore – Braveheart (1995)
The Claymore was a Scottish variant of the English Longsword, slightly smaller in size yet, still a very large two handed sword. Legend has it that William Wallace, the legendary Scottish warlord portrayed by Mel Gibson in the 1995 movie, used human skin for his sword’s scabbard, hilt, and belt. The flesh’s donor was said to have been Hugh de Cressingham, treasurer of Scotland, whom Wallace had flayed after defeating him in the battle of Stirling Bridge. Due to Mel Gibson’s short stature the Claymore is towering and almost comical.
The Darth Maul’s Double-Bladed Lightsaber – Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999)
Darth Maul, the short-lived villain from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, became a standout fan favourite because of his appearance and acrobatic lightsaber moves. He wielded a red double-bladed lightsaber on countless missions for his master, Darth Sidious. With it he embarked on missions to kill Jedi and to eliminate enemies. After it was cut in half in 32 BBY, it became a single-bladed lightsaber.
The Atlantean Sword – Conan the Barbarian (1982)
The Atlantean Sword (as it’s referred to on the film’s soundtrack) from Conan the Barbarian is one of the most iconic weapons in fantasy cinema. It was designed by Ron Cobb, who also contributed designs to Star Wars, Alien/Aliens, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Total Recall. The sword was not only Conan’s signature weapon in the first film and its forgettable sequel, Conan the Destroyer, but the Governator himself kept the prop sword — which was actually a usable weapon — in his office.
Three-bladed Sword – The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982)
Set in mythical medieval times, this sometimes violent and gory adventure tells the tale of a mercenary with a three-bladed sword who rediscovers his royal heritage when he is recruited to help a princess foil the designs of a brutal tyrant, and a powerful sorcerer, in conquering the land. A cult classic, this ‘80’s fantasy flick even spawned a short-lived production line of three-bladed plastic swords in resemblance to Talon’s.
The Last Witch Hunter is now in Irish cinemas.