Thursday, May 22, 2008

Indy's Still a Whippersnapper

My thanks to the heads-up my training partner, J.R., gave me. This was in Cindy Adams column from yesterday's New York Post:

May 21, 2008 -- SO yesterday I said to myself, "Myself," I said, "How's Harrison Ford know to handle this long whip thing?" And then Myself told me, "Stupid, talk to moviedom's top whipmaster." Whipmaster? Yes, whipmaster. We are not talking as in S&M kinkyville here. We are talking as in heavy-duty action scenes like Michelle Pfeiffer's choreographed feline Catwoman whip action in "Batman." As in Indy's whip slicing through the air to envelop the evildoer and drag him to his just rewards in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull."
"My phone rang one day," Anthony De Longis told me. "And a voice said, 'Hello? Anthony De Longis? This is Harrison Ford.' I asked how to call him. He said, 'Harrison.' And we went to work.

"Harrison does his own whip work. No double. For one month, we worked on my ranch in the canyon, at the Santa Monica hangar where he keeps his plane, and outside his home. On the set we used four short-handled Australian bullwhips of kangaroo hide with an inner braided core that looks skeletal but keeps tensile strength. It's 21/2 pounds, $1,000, 13 feet. Specially dyed to match Indy's original one, this is a supersonic blade traveling 1,400 feet per second, 700 miles per hour. It can slice you in two at 14 feet. Once you hear that explosive gunshot crack, you never forget it. It's intimidating. Scary. Makes a big noise, but that's what it's intended to do.
"I taught Harrison how to stay safe and never hit himself. Work in parallel lines. Think of railroad tracks outside your hand and body. Stay outside those tracks. I worked on his vocabulary. Vertical is a clock's 12-to-6, horizontal is 3-to-9, diagonal's 2-to-8. I broke the whips in for him so they'd develop muscle memory then taught him, listen to it. Don't rush it. It's an ally not an adversary. Use as little effort as possible. Stay absolutely relaxed. Slow its motion. Align it, form the loop above the head, and it's a rolling wave of energy that multiplies. The power is in the shoulder and arm.
"Civilized man's oldest tool, the whip, dates back 5,000 years. If you listen, the whip will whisper its secrets."
Like maybe, what happened to the whips from the original film? "No idea. Probably ended up on eBay. I only know ours belong to the property master, and I'm doing interviews this week in New York, and with today's airplanes, carrying a whip makes me apprehensive."
Maybe he can teach it to whisper he's a good guy.



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Stickgrappler's Sojourn of Septillion Steps