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The Duellists

4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Question of Honour Feb. 2 2013
By Argus TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
Few films are more beautiful to look at than Ridley Scott's debut feature from 1977, "The Duellists." Although the bluray release by Shout Factory is only a marginal improvement on the 2002 DVD release, it might be argued that any enhancement of such a sumptuous visual treat should be welcomed.

The film rolls like a sequence of classical paintings with Scott's uncanny eye for lighting and colour applied to perfectly composed interiors and ravishing locations in the Dordogne. Uniforms, weapons, fencing techniques and hairstyles are meticulously faithful to the Napoleonic period. The illusion of historical richness is furthered by Howard Blake's evocative score and the thoughtfully elegeant script, an adaptation of Joseph Conrad's novella, "The Duel."

The story is of a long-running duel between two French cavalry officers pursued for its own sake in which ideas of honour, obsession and obligation are examined. Writer Gerald Vaughan-Hughes provides a cinematic dimension by interposing a premarital relationship for one of the protagonists, Armand D'Hubert (Keith Carradine), to accentuate the destructive nature of his contest with adversary, Gabriel Ferraud (Harvey Keitel). Keitel brings a passionate intensity to his role of a resentful man driven "to feed his spite" on a fellow officer of privileged background whom he sees as a pampered "general's poodle." As the hero, Carradine offers the counter-balance of reason with a character of easy charm but one which also raises interesting questions about life's priorities.

Good performances are also given by Albert Finney, Robert Stephens, Diana Quick, Meg Wynn Owen, Edward Fox and Tom Conti.

Special features: the bluray edition includes an exclusive new interview with Keith Carradine.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Duelling Is An Obsession.. April 29 2013
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
This was like watching a painting on a moving ship,then trying to see who moved,
but like every good ship, there're a very few merry men,who can hold their own and live to tell
a tail,of there life at sea and everything else that goes with it,but in this case [on dry land]you have two
men,actually i should say one mans determination to not let his reputation ruined by another mans inability or
rookie mistake to embarrassed him,especially in front of the ladies,hence we have the Duellists with [Harvey Keitel]
and [Keith Carradine]the before mention who would not stop until one man is dead,what a great movie from Ridley Scott
and his first i should say,have to give it Five big stars.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Gem of a movie! April 3 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is a little gem of a movie. It's cinematography is pure gold. For any still photographers out there that have studied photo composition or for that matter painters that understand composition and perspective you will be delighted with this movie. Throughout most of the picture the camera doesn't move, the scene is still and beautifully composted with the actors moving across your view. Filming was done in France in the Autumn with many outdoor scenes with great colours and atmosphere. Simply delightful and a feast for the eyes!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! Sept. 16 2009
One of the finest and most accurate visual depictions of very early 19th Century France combined with the viscerally tense drama of the two French cavalry officers who spend 15 or more years fighting duels. While Keitel and Carradine initially seem hopelessly mis-cast it all works brilliantly. Beautiful to look at, the film was shot on a very tight budget in France(the Dordogne) and in NE Scotland around Aviemore. Watch the special features on the DVD as Director Scott Ridley describes how he shot the duelling scenes! Fabulous supporting cast of the best British actors around at the time. Released in 1977. DVD in 2002.
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4.0 out of 5 stars VISUAL FEAST - June 10 2004
By Panos
I enjoyed this film because the producers have captured the era magnificentley with respect to period detail as well as the language and of course the mood of the time.
I was captured by the opening scene and wasn't released till the end,as the story appealed to my interest in history in general and the film certainly fulfilled this aspect as well.
The question I asked myself after seeing this film was "...why can't they make films like this anymore?..." as I learnt of the paltry budget this film was produced from. Instead of overdone special effects and mindless violence which assaults us today more often than not, this genre/style of film is appealing and should be copied with more frequency.
Superb Keitel and good solid performance by Carradine.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Obsession May 16 2004
By A Customer
Driven by a compulsion to fight a duel at the slightest insult, Harvey Keitel plays Lt. Feurandin the French army during the time of Napleon who lives by the sword. When Keith Carradine's D'Hubert is sent out to convey a message from their French commander to cease fighting duels after badly injuring the mayor of a town, Keitel's character finds the message and delivery insulting enough to--yes--challenge Carradine to a duel then and there. Carradine ends the duel by knocking Keitel's character out with a block from the butt of his sword.
From there they both spiral into the madness and obsession of Feruand and D'Hubert's need to win at all costs. Fighting over the years, they lose loved ones and, in a sense, lose themselves as the passion for the fight becomes everything. By the end neither man understands why they are truly fighting or what they are fighting for.
Ridley Scott's first feature film was his fourth attempt at making a full length film. Based on a short story by Conrad that eventually became part of a much larger narrative canvas, "The Duelists" catches Scott in perfect form the first time out. While Scott expanded his scope in higher profile films ("Alien", "Blade Runner", "Thelma and Louise" and "Gladiator"), his visual and narrative style blossomed in his very first "epic" (made for a paltry $1 million)film.
The powerful performances by the international cast manages to overcome the minor differences in accents (Keitel's Brooklyn accent vs. Carradine's California twang vs. Tom Conti's British accent, etc.). Visually and thematically powerful, "The Duelists" remains one of Scott's best films.
The anamorphic widescreen transfer looks marvelous despite some minor blemishes.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Point / Counterpoint
The Duellists finally arrives on DVD. At long last Ridley Scott's first film is available to the public and it was well worth the wait. Read more
Published on March 24 2004 by D. A. Magee
4.0 out of 5 stars beautiful movie
the whole thing shot in natural light. Simply wonderful.
Published on Feb. 9 2004 by Gregory C Utz
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing start to great film career -- beautiful film!
After directing some thousand commercials (even he's not sure of the number) over fifteen years, Ridley Scott finally got the money together to make a feature film. Read more
Published on Jan. 21 2004 by Claude Avary
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Movie
This is one of my four favorite movies of all time (in company with Lawrence of Arabia, Henry V and the Jackson Ring Trilogy--which counts as 1 in my book). I adore this film! Read more
Published on Dec 26 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars cinematography by Rembrandt?
The DUELLISTS, the first film by GLADIATOR director Ridley Scott, is the story of two soldiers in Napoleon's army who pursue a point of honor to the point of absurdity, fighting... Read more
Published on Dec 1 2003 by Simon Crowe
4.0 out of 5 stars Swords or Pistols Monsieur?
Ridley Scott's film starring Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel explores the concepts of honor and belligerence in the context of 19th century France and the Napoleanic Wars. Read more
Published on Nov. 5 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Stunningly Beautiful Film
Director Ridley Scott (Thelma & Louise, Gladiator, Alien) made his directorial debut with this overlooked gem - THE DUELLISTS, based on a story by Joseph Conrad. Read more
Published on Oct. 12 2003 by Westley
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