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KING ARTHUR

Weapons, Knights And Battles
"There isn't a single person in ‘King Arthur' who doesn't carry a weapon,” says armourer Tommy Dunne. "Everybody is armed: even Guinevere is armed to the teeth.” In "King Arthur,” that means 400 Saxons, 150 Roman soldiers, and up to 175 Woads. Even the villagers, using their agricultural elements as weapons, get involved in the action. Each faction fights in a distinctive way and with highly varying arsenals.

Harry Humphries, a specialist in international security and the training of tactical units, was special military advisor on "King Arthur.” The former Navy SEAL had previously worked on "Black Hawk Down” with Jerry Bruckheimer and with Antoine Fuqua on "Tears of the Sun.” "Warfare hasn't changed through the years,” says Humphries, who describes himself as the "technical conscience” of the military sequences. "The concepts of warfare today are exactly as they were in 5th-century Britain,” says Humphries. "They all used various versions of conventional warfare or unconventional, or guerrilla, warfare. The only difference is that the toys have changed but the tactics are essentially the same.”

Humphries was part of the team that researched the fighting techniques of the various factions in "King Arthur.” "The Saxons were very disciplined, very Germanic in their way of doing things,” he says. "They marched in relatively fine formation, not as exact as the Roman centurions, but they were regimented and had tactics. They often fought behind a shield wall, and enticed the enemy to come to them. As long as this shield wall held up the fighters behind the wall were able to decimate the attacking enemy. It was a war of attrition.”

The Sarmatians were a hybrid military animal, adapting to the Roman style of fighting when they arrived in Britain and yet retaining a certain distinctive Eastern code. "The knights have some sort of ‘wild' interpretation of how Roman warfare was conducted,” Humphries continues. "The Romans were not guerrilla fighters; they had a tactic about them. The knights are led by a Roman leader with his own singular fighting style, but they also tend to have their own unique individual bent.”

In short, they operated like a special forces unit. "Antoine's interpretation is that they are like a SEAL unit,” says Humphries. "We try to make sure that their mentality and fighting spirit is in that vein, as opposed to fatalistic or very courageous warriors selflessly giving up their own lives for the sake of others.

"The warrior mindset has never changed,” continues Humphries. "It is based on primitive instincts that we still have today in our society. The warrior mind is still here in modern-day society where some of us are warriors and some of us are not. There is always that element that will selflessly give their own lives for the sake of others and that's what the warrior is all about: fighting what they perceive to be evil.”

Just as the four main factions – the Sarmatians, the Romans, the Saxons, and the Woads – had to be costumed based on separate characteristics, so too did Dunne have to arm each group separately. These required weaponry specific to their military lineage, but the Sarmatian knights' weaponry was of a highly technical and individualistic design. "The knights are like a special forces unit with high-tech equipment while all the rest are pretty much standardised military outfits,” says Tommy Dunne.

Arming the various factions, Dunne had to stick fairly rigidly to the guidelines of the day. For the Romans, the armaments were already well known from history books and popular culture. "We are familiar with the Romans' shield, their spear and their sword, and the way it is worn,” Dunne explains. "These are very much the weaponry of a classic military fighting unit.”

Of all the fighting men, it is the Sarmatian knigh

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