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Anton Chekhovs the Duel [Import]

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 13 reviews
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Badly directed adaptation of Chekov's novella Jan. 27 2012
By Russell Fanelli - Published on
Format: DVD
Sadly for me, The Duel is a film which looks good on the screen, but unfortunately is a badly directed adaptation of Anton Chekov's fine novella of the same name. The director, Dover Koshashvili, portrays Laevsky, the central character in the novella, as a nasty, brutish lout whose bizarre behavior is as unaccountable to the other characters in the film as it is to the viewer. He has left St. Petersburg for a small town on the Black Sea with another man's wife. He discovers that he does not love this woman, Nadya, and wants to leave her and return to St. Petersburg. He tries to borrow money from a local doctor, who in turn asks a zoologist, Van Koren, for the rubles. Van Koren hates Laevsky and tries to persuade the doctor to convince Laevsky to take Nadya with him when he leaves. When Laevsky comes to ask for the money, he insults the doctor and Van Koren uses this provocation to challenge Laevsky to fight a duel. Those that wish to see this film can discover the outcome of the duel for themselves.

As noted, director Koshashvili's mishandling and misunderstanding of the main character make it difficult for the viewer to make much sense of the story. All the other characters in the film have the same problem as the viewer; they watch Laevsky's antics with some astonishment, not knowing what to make of his behavior, and yet they tolerate him. Almost as confusing and equally unsatisfying is the treatment of Nadya, the woman who has left her husband for Laevsky. The director has little understanding of what motivates her as she interacts with Laevsky and the other characters in the film. In Chekov's novella, Nadya plays a small, but important role. In Koshasvili's film she is a central character and has many scenes unnecessary to the development of the story.

After viewing the movie I went back to Chekov's novella to determine if there was some confusion in his telling of his story and his treatment of his characters. The story, translated by the reliable Constance Garnett, is crystal clear and beautifully told. Laevsky and Nadya are complicated human beings. Chekov is so skillful and great a writer that we slowly begin to understand these truly unhappy and pitiful people. I recommend the novella, not the film.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A Great. Faithful Film Dec 31 2013
By Professor Goatboy - Published on
Verified Purchase
"The Duel" is one of the most complex and interesting short stories in Western literature: it takes on class, ethnicity, sexuality, Darwinism, Christianity, and subtle interpersonal topics like "generosity" and "self-interest" in the quietest and most subtle way. I read the story every year: second- best is seeing this film, which gets everything right and even adds just the right visuals to make its point. The acting, direction, and costumes are impeccable -- you will think yourself in late 19th-century Russia for days afterward. My only reservation is with the last 3 minutes, which obscure Chekhov's conclusions. See it now.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A Little Known Masterpiece Sept. 22 2013
By New Yorker - Published on
Format: DVD
Great acting and direction, wonderful script, beautiful cinematography.
It's basically about two men, one of whom you admire and the other of whom
you dislike intensely. But could they change positions over time? There's
a lot of action, despite the source material; "Chekhov" so often signifies
something like "Nothing happens," but not here. And despite the English accents,
the film has a Russian feeling, perhaps because the director is from Georgia
(the Eastern European one, not the American). And Fiona Glascott has to be one
of the most beautiful women I've ever seen in a movie. A very rich experience.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A Lovely, Faithful Interpretation May 25 2012
By A. Anderson - Published on
Format: DVD
Any adaptation from a much-loved work of literature is bound to disappoint, or puzzle, on certain levels. Some succeed and some fail miserably. This "interpretation" of Chekhov's novella is faithful, esthetic, respectful - perhaps almost too respectful to work as a film on its own, if the viewer has no prior knowledge of Chekhov's often strange and certainly vanished world. I do think this is a successful interpretation of Chekhov's intent, however; it is well-written, well-acted, and immaculately produced, with gorgeous scenery and music, and it renders well the atmosphere of the original. Not a film for anyone expecting "action" from the duel of the title, but certainly rewarding for those who are still looking for a visual poetry from the cinema, or a questioning of the human heart.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Thumbs up June 28 2012
By Sandra S - Published on
Format: DVD
Thumbs up. If you're an Andrew Scott fan, you'll like this one. (It's so beyond Scott's other roles and he shows himself as a versatile, quality actor in this one. I'm not familiar with Chekhov at all but doesn't matter here. None of the story is obscure as you'd expect from a classic writer. The story was done more like a stage play but most frequently outdoors. More like a series of vignettes with the same characters. The cast did a good job to go with Scott's exceptional acting. The scenery in The Duel was worth watching if just for the sea scenes. I wanted so much to NE there. The costumes were not overwhelmingly period. I am SO glad they used their own British accents instead of trying to do Russian accents. It's worth watching more than once. (Now that Scott's won the BAFTA award, I'm hoping to see him in more movies!)

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