Duellists, The 1978

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(65) IMDb 7.5/10
Available in HD

Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel star in this dramatic film about two officers in Napoleon?s army who violently confront each other in a series of duels.

Keith Carradine,Harvey Keitel
1 hour, 40 minutes

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Duellists, The

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Product Details

Genres Drama, Action & Adventure
Director Ridley Scott
Starring Keith Carradine, Harvey Keitel
Supporting actors Cristina Raines, Edward Fox
Studio Paramount
BBFC rating Parental Guidance
Rental rights 48 hour viewing period. Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Instant Video (streaming online video and digital download)

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 69 people found the following review helpful By John Dynan on 27 July 2003
Format: DVD
Based on Joseph Conrad's book "The Duel", the true story of a 30-year feud between two Napoleonic cavalry officers, "The Duellists" was Ridley Scott's first major film. Starring Keith Carradine as the pompous D'Hubert and a particularly menacing Harvey Keitel as Feraud, the film climbs inside the minds of two men for whom honor is more important than life itself.
The two antagonists begin their series of bloody encounters when D'Hubert is ordered by his commanding general to arrest Feraud for wounding the local mayor's nephew in a duel. Feraud, in a hopelessly irrational state, challenges D'Hubert to a duel, which is carried out more or less on the spot. D'Hubert comes off slightly better in the initial encounter, which only serves to fuel Feraud's rage, and the course of the film is set.
The cinematography of this film, shot by Frank Tidy, is almost beyond comparison. The previous versions on VHS simply looked muddy and rather washed out. The colors lacked any real saturation, rendering Feraud's bottle-green dolman black and it almost looked like a poor quality black and white in some scenes, especially those set in Napoleon's abortive Russian campaign.
The DVD transfer, by contrast, is staggeringly beautiful and releases colors, which I did not realize existed in the original. I am, by coincidence, a professional cameraman and I rate this as the best shot film I have ever seen. The only criticism I have is a somewhat inconsistent use of graduated filters, which, whilst they were probably quite innovative for their day, don't always work well. Grads are always a problem and any film made since will tend to suffer the same way. A very minor point.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Victor HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on 20 Nov. 2012
Format: DVD
This 1977 film is an impressive big screen debut from Ridley Scott, and possibly my favourite of his films (even more than Alien or Blade Runner). It's certainly a lot better than his recent historical epics Gladiator or Kingdom of Heaven.

Based on a novel by Joseph Conrad it tells the story of two French soldiers in Napoleon's army. After an insult more imagined than real Harvey Keitel's Feraud demands satisfaction from Keith Carradine's D'Hubert. They fight each other to a standstill, and the duellists cross paths and swords many times over the coming years in an attempt to finish their business. Duty or circumstance always seems to comebetween them, and on the occasions when they do get a clear run they are so evenly matched that no man can get the upper hand. And so it goes, over the years until the final climactic duel.

It's a beautiful film. Carradine and Keitel are well cast as D'Hubert who just wants a quiet life and Feraud, a rabid duellist with an overdeveloped sense of honour. Keitel, an inveterate ham with a real taste for scenery is especially good, with a sense of restraint in his performance for a change. While it is a tale of obsession and the darkness in the hearts of men, it is also a sweepingly grand epic, moving from era to era in the Napoleonic wars as the tide of fate washes established orders away, new orders are built only to be washed away again, with the two men caught in the tide and bounced around from fortune to disaster to fortune while still trying to settle the score.

Filmed totally on location, Scott has an eye for the scenery and the grandeur, and contrasts this with intimate portraits that show day to day life and the realities of a prolonged war on a nation and ever changing political situation in grim up close realism.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Spike Owen TOP 500 REVIEWER on 24 Aug. 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The Duellists is directed by Ridley Scott and adapted loosely to screenplay by Gerald Vaughan-Hughes from the Joseph Conrad short story The Duel. It stars Keith Carradine, Harvey Keitel, Albert Finney, Edward Fox, Cristina Raines, Robert Stephens, Tom Conti, John McEnery and Diana Quick. Music is scored by Howard Blake and cinematography by Frank Tidy.

Plot finds Keitel and Carradine as officers in Napoleon's army, who after an incident brings them into conflict, sees them duelling over a number of years. Something that greatly affects the lives of both men.

Ridley Scott has never hid from the influence of Kubrick's Barry Lyndon on The Duellists, and why should he? For The Duellists is every bit as noble and enjoyable as Kubrick's lengthy picture. Here on his first feature film assignment the director has crafted a picture of lush visuals, while also garnering great performances from his two leads. Story ultimately is a bit thin, but Scott explores interesting themes and keeps things ticking over nicely for the hour and forty minute running time. The characters are intellectual, the dialogue sharp, the Napoleonic period splendidly recreated with thought and attention to detail. While the sword fights are intense and credible and never once does it feel like Scott is slotting in a duel purely for action's sake.

A darn great film for the period film lover to gorge on, where the futility of war and men's obsessions blend seamlessly with visual splendour. 8.5/10
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Siamese on 26 Sept. 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
For such a marvellously constructed film, it's hard to believe this was Ridley Scott's very first feature length work! It's also quite surprising to realise that, for someone that was described as being uncomfortable around actors when "Alien" was in production, here Scott managed to get his whole cast to give more than capable performances and delivered his trademark dazzling visuals with overwhelming results.
"The Duellists", based on Joseph Conrad's story 'The Duel', deals with man's obsession that turns into folly, namely Feraud's intolerant arrogance that turns him into a loose cannon, whose compulsions overpower his life and of those around him - he shares some similarities with Mr. Kurtz in Conrad's better known novella 'Heart of Darkness.' Yet ultimately it's the beautiful visuals that grabbed my attention - many said that the film was too beautiful at the time of its original release! Ridley Scott was heavily influenced by Stanley Kubrick's "Barry Lyndon" during filming, and admits that, like Kubrick had for "Lyndon", he also took the work of painters as references to create his superbly detailed images in the commentary track. Curiously, Kubrick's work was so influential to Scott that he went as far as to cast Gay Hamilton, who had played Nora Brady in "Barry Lyndon", in a small role as one of Feraud's mistresses.
Keith Carradine as D'Hubert renders a quiet and understated performance, and Harvey Keitel is excellent as the intense and almost impossibly obsessive and maniacal Feraud. Funnily enough, their native accents never bothered me as I felt they weren't obtrusive in delivering their very well written dialogue, plus they didn't affect the incredible atmosphere set up by the director for the entire length of the story.
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