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The Duellists 1978

Subtitles
4.4 out of 5 stars (84) IMDb 7.5/10

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

Starring:
Keith Carradine, Harvey Keitel
Runtime:
1 hour, 40 minutes

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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
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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By rob crawford TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 25 May 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I saw this when it came out and vividly remembered it for over 30 years, though when I saw it I did not know that Ridley Scott directed it. To see it again was an extraordinary pleasure, the quality was so great that I was astounded. This is an absolutely first rate film, a genuine masterpiece.

The plot of the film is about two men locked in a duel of mortal combat, the tail end of the aristocratic honor code as the modern age dawns with Napoleon. Though an aristocrat, one man (Carradine) is rather civilized, given the task of hauling the other, an incorrigible brute, into prison for the murder by sword of a politician's relative. After a silly insult, the result is an explosive hatred, with the macho aggressor (Keitel) imposing the fight and his own code on his adversary. Carradine would like to stop the madness, but carries on for the sake of his reputation. All of this is played out against a vivid historical backdrop, the Napoleonic Wars and the restoration, which are evoked with splendid intelligence and subtlety.

The action scenes - the fights - are of a bloody realism that I have rarely seen in an action film, but then, this is a historical drama of wonderful accuracy. In a variety of contexts, you watch the men go at eachother with a blood lust, with a youthful energy that slips away before the viewer's eyes, with a growing sense of futility and emotional scars. It is an extraordinary transformation.

The cinematography of the film is also second to none: from the odd angles of provincial French architecture to the flourishes of the most Baroque aristocratic homes, you witness the men as they pursue their careers. Truly a feast for the eyes, utterly mesmerizing, breathtaking. Iconic images are a Ridley Scott hallmark.

Finally, the extras on the making of the film are very nice. You get context with the usual hollywood fluff treatment. Recommended with the greatest enthusiasm.
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Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
With a cast which reads like a "Who's Who?" of British theatre this film should be good. It isn't, it's fantastic.
After umpteen viewings of this beautifully photographed work I still devour each scene. Although the costumes and accompanying paraphenalia give an air of the finest BBC costume drama, the atmosphere created is one of frill-free realism.
The two main protagonists, both men of honour and professional soldiers, are studies of reason and unjustified hatred. They are brought together by pure chance yet their destinies seem to be interlinked over a period exceeding two decades. Throughout the entire film, I desperately wanted to shake Keitel's character and make him realise how wrong he is to pursue Carradine so relentlessly. They should really be able to have a beer and forget their differences, but then again, I suppose that would have made a pretty poor film.
The action scenes are graphic without being gory, each duel a miniature peak in an enthralling landscape of characters.
I won't spoil the story by giving away the ending, but I don't think that I've ever seen a better denouement in a British film. Let's just say that by the time the titles come up, both characters have had an experience of justice and that any spectator must sympathise and empathise with both men. Given the extremely diverse nature of their two characters, this is perhaps the main triumph of the film.
Watch it.
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