Around the time that I turned 10, I was on a quixotic quest: finding a sport in which I did not feel like a clumsy giraffe. My height was well-suited for basketball and volleyball, but I never took to them. Mastery of the games’ mechanics was beyond my elementary-school patience and, being of a capricious nature, I abandoned these athletic pursuits for artistic ones. It was not until my freshman year of college when the desire to do something physical once more reared its head. Why? Because I was presented with the opportunity to do something of which I, as a child who loved swash-buckling, had longed dreamed: Fencing.
As I learned the basics of swordplay, I began to see myself less as a graceless stork, and more as a nimble combatant, whose height gave her a greater reach and deeper lunge than her opponents. My instructors were patient as they led us through our drills, but when I clashed with them during practice matches, they did not hold back (actually I’m sure they did, it just REALLY did not feel like it). They would spring forward with disarming (pun intended) speed, and always five moves ahead of their students. At the end of my first year, I felt like a Jedi padawan, with much to learn, but with a new-found confidence in myself that would serve me well as I began adult-ing.
Inspired by my enthusiastic reports, my father found a fencing salon back east, and he and I would spar with each other during breaks. I remember one occasion where the snow blanketed our yard, gleaming as white as our fencing uniforms, our breath visible as it puffed out from the mesh of our masks. Thanks to my father, who had first shown me classic movies like Scaramouche (1952), movies that kick-started my imagination and a desire for thrilling heroics, I had found a zeal for swordplay that eventually overwhelmed my reluctance towards physical recreation.
As summarized on the film’s IMDb page: “In France during the late 18th Century, a man sets out to avenge the death of his friend at the hands of a master swordsman.”