A swashbuckler is a genre of European adventure literature that focuses on a heroic protagonist stock character who is skilled in swordplay, acrobatics, guile and chivalrous ideals. A 'swashbuckler' protagonist is heroic, daring, and idealistic: he rescues damsels in distress, protects the downtrodden, and uses duels to defend his honor or that of a lady or avenge a comrade. Swashbucklers would often engage in daring and romantic adventures with bravado or flamboyance. Swashbuckler heroes are gentleman adventurers who dress elegantly and flamboyantly in coats, waistcoats, tight breeches, large feathered hats, and high leather boots, and they are armed with the thin rapiers used by aristocrats.
Swashbucklers are not unrepentant brigands or pirates, although some may rise from such disreputable stations and achieve redemption.His opponent is typically characterized as a dastardly villain. While the hero may face down a number of henchmen to the villain during a story, the climax is a dramatic one-on-one sword battle between the protagonist and the villain. There is a long list of swashbucklers who combine courage, skill, resourcefulness, and a distinctive sense of honor and justice, as for example Cyrano de Bergerac , The Three Musketeers , The Scarlet Pimpernel , Robin Hood, and Zorro.
As a historical fiction genre, it is often set in the Renaissance or Cavalier era. The stock character also became common in the film genre, which extended the genre to the Golden Age of Piracy.As swashbuckler stories are often mixed with the romance genre, there will often be a beautiful, aristocratic female love interest to whom the hero expresses a refined, courtly love. At the same time, since swashbuckler plots are often based on intrigues involving corrupt Cardinals or scheming monarch villains, the heroes may be tempted by alluring femme fatales or vampish courtesans.
"Swashbuckler" is a compound of "swash" (archaic: to swagger with a drawn sword) and "buckler" (a small shield gripped in the fist) dating from the 16th century.
While man-at-arms and sellswords of the era usually wore armor of necessity, their counterparts in later romantic literature and film (see below) often did not, and the term evolved to denote a daring, devil-may-care demeanor rather than brandishment of accoutrements of war. Swashbuckling adventures and romances are generally set in Europe from the late Renaissance up through the Age of Reason and the Napoleonic Wars, extending into the colonial era with pirate tales in the Caribbean.
Jeffrey Richards traces the swashbuckling novel to the rise of Romanticism, and an outgrowth of the historical novel, particularly those of Sir Walter Scott, "... medieval tales of chivalry, love and adventure rediscovered in the eighteenth century".This type of historical novel was further developed by Alexandre Dumas.
John Galsworthy said of Robert Louis Stevenson's 1888 swashbuckling romance, The Black Arrow , that it was "a livelier picture of medieval times than I remember elsewhere in fiction."Anthony Hope's 1894, The Prisoner of Zenda initiated an additional subset of the swashbuckling novel, the Ruritanian romance.
The perceived significant and widespread role of swordsmanship in civilian society as well as warfare in the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods led to fencing being performed on theatre stages as part of plays. Soon actors were taught to fence in an entertaining, dramatic manner. Eventually fencing became an established part of a classical formation for actors.
Consequently, when movie theaters mushroomed, ambitious actors took the chance to present their accordant skills on the screen. Since silent movies were no proper medium for long dialogues, the classic stories about heroes who would defend their honour with sword in hand were simplified and sheer action would gain priority. This was the birth of a new kind of film hero: the swashbuckler.For Hollywood actors to depict these skilled sword fighters, they needed advanced sword training. Four of the most famous instructors for swashbuckling swordplay are William Hobbs, Anthony De Longis, Bob Anderson and Peter Diamond.
The larger-than-life heroics portrayed in some film franchise adventures (most notably the Indiana Jones movies) set in the modern era have been described as swashbuckling.
The genre has, apart from swordplay, always been characterized by influences that can be traced back to the chivalry tales of Medieval Europe, such as the legends of Robin Hood and King Arthur. It soon created its own drafts based on classic examples like The Mark of Zorro (1920), The Three Musketeers (1921) , Scaramouche (1923) and The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934) . Some films did also use motifs of pirate stories.Often these films were adaptations of classic historic novels published by well-known authors such as Alexandre Dumas, Rafael Sabatini, Baroness Emma Orczy, Sir Walter Scott, Johnston McCulley, and Edmond Rostand.
Swashbucklers are one of the most flamboyant Hollywood film genres,unlike cinema verite or modern realistic filmmaking. The genre attracted large audiences who relished the blend of escapist adventure, historic romance, and daring stunts in cinemas before it became a fixture on TV screens. With the focus on action, adventure, and, to a lesser degree, romance, there is little concern for historical accuracy. Filmmakers may mix incidents and events from different historical eras.
As a first variation of the classic swashbuckler there have also been female swashbucklers.Maureen O'Hara in Against All Flags and Jean Peters in Anne of the Indies were very early action film heroines. Eventually the typical swashbuckler motifs were used up because they had so often been shown on TV screens. Later films such as The Princess Bride , the Pirates of the Caribbean series and The Mask of Zorro include modern takes on the swashbuckler archetype.
Television followed the films, especially in the UK, with The Adventures of Robin Hood , Sword of Freedom , The Buccaneers , and Willam Tell between 1955 and 1960. US TV produced two series of Zorro in 1957 and 1990. Following the 1998 film The Mask of Zorro , a TV series about a female swashbuckler, the Queen of Swords , aired in 2000.
Famous swashbuckler characters from literature and other media include the following:
Actors notable for their portrayals of swashbucklers include:
Fiction writers whose novels and stories have been adapted for swashbuckler films include:
Sword and sorcery (S&S) is a subgenre of fantasy, characterized by sword-wielding heroes engaged in exciting and violent adventures. An element of romance is often present, as is an element of magic and the supernatural. Unlike works of high fantasy, the tales, though dramatic, focus mainly on personal battles rather than world-endangering matters. Sword and sorcery commonly overlaps with heroic fantasy.
Zorro is a fictional character created in 1919 by American pulp writer Johnston McCulley, and appearing in works set in the Pueblo of Los Angeles in Alta California. He is typically portrayed as a dashing masked vigilante who defends the commoners and indigenous peoples of California against corrupt and tyrannical officials and other villains. His signature all-black costume includes a cape, a hat known as a sombrero cordobés, and a mask covering the upper half of his face.
Stage combat, fight craft or fight choreography is a specialised technique in theatre designed to create the illusion of physical combat without causing harm to the performers. It is employed in live stage plays as well as operatic and ballet productions. With the advent of cinema and television the term has widened to also include the choreography of filmed fighting sequences, as opposed to the earlier live performances on stage. It is closely related to the practice of stunts and is a common field of study for actors. Actors famous for their stage fighting skills frequently have backgrounds in dance, gymnastics or martial arts training.
Sword-and-sandal, also known as peplum, is a subgenre of largely Italian-made historical, mythological, or Biblical epics mostly set in the Greco-Roman or medieval period. These films attempted to emulate the big-budget Hollywood historical epics of the time, such as Ben-Hur, Cleopatra, Quo Vadis, The Robe, Spartacus, Samson and Delilah and The Ten Commandments. These films dominated the Italian film industry from 1958 to 1965, eventually being replaced in 1965 by the spaghetti Western and Eurospy films.
Charles de Batz de Castelmore, also known as d'Artagnan and later Count d'Artagnan, was a French Musketeer who served Louis XIV as captain of the Musketeers of the Guard. He died at the siege of Maastricht in the Franco-Dutch War. A fictionalized account of his life by Gatien de Courtilz de Sandras formed the basis for the d'Artagnan Romances of Alexandre Dumas, père, most famously including The Three Musketeers (1844). The heavily fictionalized version of d'Artagnan featured in Dumas' works and their subsequent screen adaptations is now far more widely known than the real historical figure.
Adventure films are a genre of film whose plots feature elements of travel. They typically involve protagonists who must leave their home or place of comfort and go to far away lands to fulfill a goal. Settings play an important role in adventure films, sometimes as big as the characters themselves.
The Mark of Zorro is a 1940 American black-and-white swashbuckling Western adventure film from 20th Century Fox, produced by Darryl F. Zanuck, directed by Rouben Mamoulian, that stars Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, and Basil Rathbone.
The Mark of Zorro is a 1920 silent adventure romance film starring Douglas Fairbanks and Noah Beery Sr.. This genre-defining swashbuckler adventure was the first movie version of The Mark of Zorro. Based on the 1919 story The Curse of Capistrano by Johnston McCulley, which introduced the masked hero, Zorro, the screenplay was adapted by Fairbanks and Eugene Miller.
The fantasy of manners is a subgenre of fantasy literature that also partakes of the nature of a comedy of manners. Such works generally take place in an urban setting and within the confines of a fairly elaborate, and almost always hierarchical, social structure. The term was first used in print by science fiction critic Donald G. Keller in an article, The Manner of Fantasy, in the April, 1991 issue of The New York Review of Science Fiction; author Ellen Kushner has said that she suggested the term to Keller. The subgenre, or a close relative to it, has also been called mannerpunk, a tongue-in-cheek reference to the cyberpunk subgenre of science fiction.
Cyrano de Bergerac is a 1990 French comedy-drama film directed by Jean-Paul Rappeneau and based on the 1897 play of the same name by Edmond Rostand, adapted by Jean-Claude Carrière and Rappeneau. It stars Gérard Depardieu, Anne Brochet and Vincent Pérez. The film was a co-production between companies in France and Hungary.
Cyrano de Bergerac is a 1950 American adventure film based on the 1897 French Alexandrin verse drama Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand. It uses poet Brian Hooker's 1923 English blank verse translation as the basis for its screenplay. The film was the first motion picture version in English of Rostand's play, though there were several earlier adaptations in different languages.
Paul Auguste Jean Nicolas Féval was a French adventure novelist, like his father Paul Féval, père. He was the third of eight children and the eldest son of Paul Féval, who was 42 years old and at the height of his success when Paul Féval fils was born.
The Khaavren Romances are a series of fantasy novels written by Steven Brust and set in the fictional world of Dragaera. The novels are swashbuckling adventure stories involving war, intrigue, and romance. They are heavily influenced by and homage the d'Artagnan Romances written by Alexandre Dumas. The series is written by Brust in the voice and persona of a Dragaeran novelist, Paarfi of Roundwood, whose style is a tongue-in-cheek parody of Dumas, matching both his swashbuckling sense of adventure and his penchant for tangents and longwindedness. The Khaavren Romances books have all used Dumas novels as their chief inspiration, recasting the plots of those novels to fit within Brust's established world of Dragaera. The first five books in the cycle are inspired by the Musketeers books, while 2020's The Baron of Magister Valley uses The Count of Monte Cristo as a starting point.
Who Am I This Time? is a 1982 American made-for-television comedy-drama film directed by Jonathan Demme and based on the 1961 short story of the same name by Kurt Vonnegut. It is the fourth episode of the first season of PBS' American Playhouse series which aired on February 2, 1982.
Cinematic fight choreography or staged fights in cinema include performances of archery, classical fencing, historical fencing, martial arts, close combat, and duels in general, as well as choreography of full-scale battles with hundreds of combatants.
Swashbuckler films are a subgenre of the action film genre, often characterised by swordfighting and adventurous heroic characters, known as swashbucklers. Real historical events often feature prominently in the plot, morality is often clear-cut, heroic characters are clearly heroic and even villains tend to have a code of honour. There is often a damsel in distress and a romantic element.
Historical romance is a broad category of fiction in which the plot takes place in a setting located in the past. Walter Scott helped popularize this genre in the early 19th-century, with works such as Rob Roy and Ivanhoe. Literary fiction historical romances continue to be published, and a notable recent example is Wolf Hall (2009), a multi-award-winning novel by English historical novelist Hilary Mantel. It is also a genre of mass-market fiction, which is related to the broader romantic love genre.
On Guard is a 1997 French swashbuckler film directed by Philippe de Broca and starring Daniel Auteuil, Fabrice Luchini, Vincent Perez, and Marie Gillain. Adapted from the 1858 historical novel Le Bossu by Paul Féval, the film is about a skilled swordsman named Lagardère who is befriended by the Duke of Nevers. When the duke is attacked by his evil cousin Gonzague, the duke in his dying moments asks Lagardère to avenge him and look after his infant daughter.
Revenge of the Musketeers is a 1994 French swashbuckler adventure film directed by Bertrand Tavernier and starring Sophie Marceau, Philippe Noiret, Claude Rich, and Sami Frey. Set in the seventeenth century, the film is about the daughter of the renowned swordsman D'Artagnan who keeps the spirit of the Musketeers alive by bringing together the aging members of the legendary band to oppose a plot to overthrow the King and seize power. Revenge of the Musketeers was filmed on location at the Château de Biron in Biron, Dordogne and the Château de Maisons in Maisons-Laffitte in France and in Portugal with a budget of $9.1 million.
Cyrano and d'Artagnan is a 1964 French adventure film directed by Abel Gance, starring José Ferrer and Jean-Pierre Cassel. It is set in 1642 and tells the story of how the poet and duelist Cyrano de Bergerac teams up with the musketeer d'Artagnan in order to stop a plot against king Louis XIII. The film draws from Edmond Rostand's 1897 play Cyrano de Bergerac and Alexandre Dumas' three-volume novel d'Artagnan Romances. Ferrer repeated his role from the 1950 film Cyrano de Bergerac. Cyrano and d'Artagnan had 651,213 admissions in France.
The swashbuckler is the most rigidly conventionalized of all the subgenres of the Adventure genre