watching as the Man In Black crawls to safety, then looks to Inigo.
We'll wait until you're ready.
Again. Thank you.
The Man In Black sits to rest on the boulder that once held the rope. He tugs off his leather boots and is amazed to see several large rocks tumble out. The Man In Black wears gloves. Inigo stares at them.
I do not mean to pry, but you don't by any chance happen to have six fingers on your right hand?
He glances up -- the question clearly baffles him.
Do you always begin conversations this way?
My father was slaughtered by a six- fingered man. He was a great swordmaker, my father. And when the six-fingered man appeared and requested a special sword, my father took the job. He slaved a year before he was done.
He hands his sword to the Man In Black.
I have never seen its equal.
CLOSE UP - INIGO.
Even now, this still brings pain.
The six-fingered man returned and demanded it, but at one-tenth his promised price. My father refused. Without a word, the six-fingered man slashed him through the heart. I loved my father, so, naturally, challenged his murderer to a duel ... I failed ... the six-fingered man did leave me alive with the six-fingered sword, but he gave me these.
THE MAN IN BLACK,
How old were you?
I was eleven years old. When I was strong enough, I dedicated my life to the study of fencing. So the next time we meet, I will not fail. I will go up to the six-fingered man and say, "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."
You've done nothing but study swordplay?
More pursuit than study lately. You see, I cannot find him. It's been twenty years now. I am starting to lose confidence. I just work for Vizzini to pay the bills. There's not a lot of money in revenge.
Well, I certainly hope you find him, someday.
You are ready, then?
Whether I am or not, you've been more than fair.
You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you.
You seem a decent fellow. I hate to die.
And on that word --
THE TWO OF THEM.
And what we are starting now is one of the two greatest sword fights in modern movies (the other one happens later on), and right from the beginning it looks different.
Because they aren't close to each other -- none of the swords-crossing "en garde" garbage.
No, what we have here is two men, two athletes, and they look to be too faraway to damage each other, but each time one makes even the tiniest feint, the other counters, and there is silence, and as they start to circle --
THE SIX-FINGERED SWORD,
feinting here, feinting there and --
THE TWO MEN,
finished teasing, begin to duel in earnest.
Their swords cross, then again, again, and the sound comes so fast it's almost continual. Inigo presses on, the Man In Black retreating up a rocky incline.
You're using Bonetti's defense against me, ah?
I thought it fitting, considering the rocky terrain --
Naturally, you must expect me to attack with Capo Ferro --
And he shifts his style now.
-- naturally --
--but I find Thibault cancels out Capo Ferro, don't you?
The Man In Black is now perched at the edge of the elevated castle ruin. No where to go, he jumps to the sand. Inigo stares down at him.
Unless the enemy has studied his Agrippa-
And now, with the grace of an Olympian, Inigo flies off the perch, somersaults clean over the Man In Black's head, and lands facing his opponent.
-- which I have.
The two men are almost flying across the rocky terrain, never losing balance, never coming close to stumbling; the battle rages with incredible finesse, first one and then the other gaining the advantage, and by now, it's clear that this isn't just two athletes going at it, it's a lot more that that. This is two legendary swashbucklers and they're in their prime, it's Burt Lancaster in "The Crimson Pirate" battling Errol Flynn in "Robin Hood" and then, incredibly, the action begins going even faster than before as we
And behind him now, drawing closer all the time, is the deadly edge of the Cliffs of Insanity. Inigo fights and ducks and feints and slashes and it all works, but not for long, as gradually the Man In Black keeps the advantage, keeps forcing Inigo back, closer and closer to death.
You are wonderful!
Thank you -- I've worked hard to become so.
The Cliff edge is very close now. Inigo is continually being forced toward it.
I admit it -- you are better than I am.
Then why are you smiling?
Inches from defeat, Inigo is, in fact, all smiles.
Because I know something you don't know.
And what is that?
I am not left-handed.
And he throws the six-fingered sword into his right hand and immediately, the tide of battle turns.
THE MAN IN BLACK,
stunned, doing everything be can to keep Inigo by the Cliff edge. But no use. Slowly at first, he begins to retreat. Now faster, Inigo is in control and the Man In Black is desperate.
And the six-fingered sword is all but invisible now, as he increases his attack, then suddenly switches styles again.
A ROCKY STAIRCASE leading to a turret-shaped plateau, and the Man In Black is retreating like mad up the steps and he can't stop Inigo -- nothing can stop Inigoo -- and in a frenzy, the Man In Black makes every feint, tries every thrust, lets go with all he has left. But he fails. Everything fails. He tries one or two final desperate moves but they are nothing.
I ought to be after twenty years.
And now the Man In Black is smashed into a stone pillar, pinned there under the six fingered sword.
There's something I ought to tell you.
I am not left-handed either.
And now he changes hands, and at last, the battle is fully joined.
And to his amazement, he is being forced back down the steps. He tries one style, another, but it all comes down to the same thing -- the Man In Black seems to be in control. And before Inigo knows it, the six-fingered sword is knocked clear out of his hand.
Inigo retreats, dives from the stairs to a moss-covered bar suspended over the archway. He swings out, lands, and scrambles to his sword and we
THE MAN IN BLACK
who watches Inigo, then casually tosses his sword to the landing where it sticks in perfectly. Then the Man In Black copies INIGO. Not copies exactly, improves. He dives to the bar, swings completely over it like a circus performer and dismounts with a 9.7 backflip.
staring in awe.
Who are you?!
No one of consequence.
I must know.
Get used to disappointment.
moving like lightning, and he thrusts forward, slashes, darts back, all in almost a single movement and --
THE MAN IN BLACK.
Dodging, blocking, and again he thrusts forward, faster even than before, and again he slashes but --
And there is never a move anyone makes he doesn't remember, and this time he blocks the slash, slashes out himself with the six-fingered sword.
On it goes, back and forth across the rocky terrain, Inigo's feet moving with the grace and speed of a great improvisational dancer.
THE SIX-FINGERED SWORD
as it is knocked free, arching up into the air, and --
catching it again. And something terrible is written behind his eyes: he has given his all, done everything man can do, tried every style, made every maneuver, but it wasn't enough, and on his face for all to see is the realization that he, Inigo Montoya of Spain, is going to lose.
THE MAN IN BLACK,
THE SIX-FINGERED SWORD,
sent flying from Inigo's grip. He stands helpless only a moment. Then be drops to his knees, bows his head, shuts his eyes.
Kill me quickly.
I would as soon destroy a stained glass window as an artist like yourself. However, since I can't have you following me either --
And he dunks Inigo's head with his heavy sword handle. Inigo pitches forward unconscious.
Please understand, I hold you in the highest respect.He grabs his scabbard and takes off after the Princess
- William Goldman, The Princess Bride, 1987