The Duellists

FENCING IS A SCIENCE. LOVING IS A PASSION. DUELLING IS AN OBSESSION.

In the early 1800s, two Napoleonic officers (Harvey Keitel, Keith Carradine) clash over a minor incident and spend the following 15 years duelling each other whenever they meet. Director Ridley Scott’s first feature film has a look inspired by Barry Lyndon (1975); beautiful and realistic, it also has convincing period details. One of Scott’s primary achievements is making a tale about two men who are locked in an utterly pointless battle look vivid and exciting; the story turns into a study of masculinity at its worst and the idea of honor becomes perverted. Unbelievably, it was based on real-life events. Very engaging, although Keitel’s New York accent is a distraction.

1977-Britain. 101 min. Color. Produced by David Puttnam. Directed by Ridley Scott. Screenplay: Gerald Vaughan-Hughes. Novel: Joseph Conrad (“The Duel”). Cinematography: Frank Tidy. Music: Howard Blake. Cast: Keith Carradine (Armand d’Hubert), Harvey Keitel (Gabriel Feraud), Edward Fox (Colonel), Cristina Raines, Robert Stephens, Diana Quick… Albert Finney, Pete Postlethwaite.

Trivia: Michael York and Oliver Reed were allegedly considered for the leads.

Last word: “I knew it was a good film. It was criticised for being too pretty, but I didn’t really give a shit.” (Scott, The Guardian)

IMDb

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