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PETER PAN

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The filmmakers had very definite influences in mind when they set about establishing the tone of the fighting in Peter Pan. "Some of my favorite films are the Errol Flynn movies of the 1930's and ‘40's and I thought if I could equal or top those sword fights, I'd be very pleased,” the director said. "They are marvelous fun and the actors really know what they're doing. So when Captain Hook and Peter Pan were dueling, we wanted them to recall the flash and fire of actors like Basil Rathbone and Errol Flynn.” 

To achieve this end, the crew was fortified with a trio of today's top action experts: second unit director Conrad Palmisano, fencing master Gary Worsfield and fight coordinator Brad Allan. 

The duelists in Peter Pan fenced, using swords with points. "It's not the type of swordplay where they slice at each other until somebody gets it,” Palmisano explained. "They tell a story in the fight choreography with a series of attacks and parries and retreats, all aimed at getting the opponent to do something. Gary is a wonderful swordmaster who gets people to work very fast and tight. It's very, very fast-handed and close contact, which is exciting. When Hook has Pan cornered or in trouble, then Pan does something special to get out of it, and that's where Brad comes in. The whole end battle is done in the air, amidst the sails of the Jolly Roger. Some of this is like an aerial dog-fight for brief moments. Pan's advantage has always been his quickness and ability to fly—but we're taking that away from him at the end, raising the stakes of the final battle between him and Hook.” 

Worsfield savored the opportunity to bring the beauty of swordplay to the screen. "We've put in almost every fencing action there is,” he said. "There's rapport or communication through swords, as well as insults, humiliation, disgust, anger, deception – much more than brute strength. There's been no film that I know of with sword-fighting and flying together. Fencing is very linear but Pan can fly so the possibilities are mindboggling.” 

Brad Allan, who has worked with the Jackie Chan stunt team for seven years, maximized the impact of the flying fights. "The Hong Kong style is not congruous with the look of Peter Pan, but the filmmakers wanted to add some airplay to the Errol Flynn style,” he explained. 

"I think Jeremy wants to be the next Jackie Chan,” Allan added. "Sometimes we have to hold him back – he's really good.” 

For four months before production began, Sumpter devoted four hours a day to fencing. "Peter controls his fights – he's skillful, he's smooth,” said the young actor. "I learned proper fencing with the mask. Once you do that, you can work on your feet and knees and how your body position and lunges are supposed to be.” 

Jason Isaacs came to the project experienced in swordplay, but did not have as much advantage as he expected. "I'd done sword-fighting in a few films. I was a little bit cocky about it, until it became clear that I had to sword fight with my left hand – because Hook has a hook on his right hand.” 

Ultimately, it only increased his ferocity. "Jason has a great deal of dexterity with his hook,” said Palmisano. "He's like the Mix Master of cutting edges coming at you when he makes the moves. Trying to rehearse him, about three moves into it, you just want to drop the sword and run outside and wait for it to be safe again.” 

Wendy and the Lost Boys were less threatening, but all received serious training. "We'd bring the Lost Boys into the rehearsal stage with 10 fully-grown adult stuntmen,” said Palmisano, "and hand them all metal swords and say, ‘Here, attack those guys!' For months, we'd do practice and play routines and each boy found something that he really liked to do the best, and we'd work that into their fight scenes.” 

Actor Bruce Spence, who plays the pir

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