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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Duellists, The [DVD] [1977]
Format: DVD|Change
Price:£8.45+ £1.26 shipping

on 23 May 2017
Ridley Scott's debut as director is a historical drama, based on a Joseph Conrad story, set in the time of Napoleon. An impetuous hussar lieutenant Feraud (played by Harvey Keitel) stabs the son of an influential mayor in a duel, and another lieutenant d'Hubert (played by Keith Carradine) is sent to arrest him. Keitel's character, rather than returning to barracks, challenges his arresting officer to a duel instead, though both survive the encounter. The film follows the bizarre obsession over supposed honour, as the two young men rise in the ranks and, as the Napoleonic wars proceed, stumble into each other every few years, with Feraud challenging d'Hubert to a duel on every occasion, to the increasing irritation of d'Hubert, who cannot see the point of this ongoing feud yet feels obliged to meet Feraud in combat each time rather than lose face. On the positive side, the costumes are impeccably researched, the framing of scenes hints at Scott's later painterly style in this regard, and the cast is top notch, with an especially good performance by Diana Quick as d'Hubert's lover. On the other hand, the script does not bother to explain Feraud's bizarre obsession with duelling and with d'Hubert, and so other than a comment on the absurdity of male machismo and honour the audience is left in the dark as to what the point of it all is. d'Hubert gains a grudging respect for Veraud as they are forced to fight together in the misery of the retreat from Moscow, but that is about the extent of the character development. For me the plot just limps along from duel to duel without really developing, and other than the odd cameo by assorted fine actors there is little to get engaged by. I am a fan of Scott but this felt to me like a stylish but lumbering start to his career.
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on 13 May 2017
the pacing is slow the script is apathetic, the acting at times wooden ,it is however one of the great hidden gems of cinema it is one of the most beautifully shot films out there it is at times almost like a canvas. the costumes and historical realism .make this film a must for any serious film connoisseur.a must see for lovers of historical drama
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on 12 August 2017
excellent dvd
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on 20 November 2017
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on 6 November 2017
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on 18 June 2015
Came on time. Classic film. Picture and sound quality good for a older film.
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on 4 February 2015
The movie is, of course, glorious. I bought the blu ray as it was R2, but the transfer does not seem to be better than my UK DVD version.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 24 August 2012
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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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 25 May 2011
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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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 18 September 2013
Based on a Joseph Conrad short story inspired by a real-life long running duel between two of Napoleon's officers, Ridley Scott's first feature The Duellists is one of the most visually beautiful films of the 70s. Often adopting the look of paintings of the period while pulling off the difficult trick of avoiding looking like staged or slavishly copied tableaux but instead immersing you in a different time and place, at times it looks and feels as if Scott and his collaborators had somehow travelled back to the Napoleonic era and shot their movie there. Scott manages to marshal his extremely limited forces splendidly, using the natural landscape and existing locations to give the film a sense of scale while strategically cramming the tighter shots with memorable detail to convince you that it's only part of a much more densely populated world. Adding to the verisimilitude is the fact that many of the locations chosen turned out to be the hometown of one of the real life duellists whose series of some 30 duels inspired Conrad's short story.

In many ways it's the least Ridley Scottish film of Scott's career, at once inhabiting the classic British costume drama tradition while still making something quite unique out of it that ensures it's not all about the look and the interior decoration. It's a thin story, but Scott makes it feel a surprisingly rich one, Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel's constantly interrupted duel following the course of Napoleon's rise and fall as one adapts to circumstances and becomes a man of substance and the other turns belligerence into a point of honour until even he can no longer remember the truth of the trivial incident that inspired his life-long unconsummated vendetta. While unlikely casting - it was originally intended as an Oliver Reed-Michael York vehicle until it proved impossible to raise finance on the stars despite the huge success of The Three Musketeers - both are surprisingly good and never feel out of place, Carradine allowing his casual but confused decency to have just enough dismissive incredulity to further fuel Keitel's intensity (the latter going through the entire film convinced he was the hero).

The duels themselves are magnificently savage and often physically gruelling affairs, each with its own distinct character and location as the duellists' celebrity grows, benefiting both from the director's eye and William Hobbs' typically excellent choreography that shows his mastery of drama, always putting character at the forefront rather than just going for a series of visually impressive moves (not that there's any shortage of those either). There's a genuinely impressive supporting cast - Albert Finney, Robert Stephens, Alun Armstrong, Tom Conti, Edward Fox when he could still do understated and even familiar faces like Pete Posthlethwaite in bit parts - and a fine classical score from Howard Blake. While Scott's subsequent fame has rather perversely had the effect of making the film increasingly overlooked and forgotten today rather than being widely rediscovered, it's a surprisingly compelling and at times hypnotic portrait that deserves more attention and seems to gain in stature with each new viewing.

Shout Factory's recent Region A-locked Blu-ray release loses quite a few of the extras from the original Paramount DVD release (Scott's first short film Boy and Bicycle, the storyboards, stills and poster galleries and the original theatrical trailer), but it retains several others (the audio commentary by Scott, Howard Blake's isolated score and commentary, director Randall Wallace's 30-minute interview with Scott) and throws in one excellent new one, a 25-minute interview with Keith Carradine. The star proves an articulate and enthusiastic advocate for the film, whether its commenting on the deliberate clash of accents between him and Keitel to emphasise the class differences that aggravate the duel to the ingenious cost-cutting measures they employed to disguise the meagre budget (including painting a carriage different colours front and back so it would look like two completely different carriages!). That said, it would have helped if the editor didn't constantly cut to clips of Diana Quick every time Carradine talks about Cristina Raines... The widescreen transfer is also particularly impressive and a boon to a film as visually impressive as this.
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