The Duellists

"OK"

The Duellists Review


In every director's past there are some strange departures. Ridley Scott's directorial debut, The Duellists, is no exception: It's a competent but slow-paced outing that offers no hint that Scott would soon be making exciting thrillers like Alien and Blade Runner.

To be fair, The Duellists (based on Conrad's The Duel) is a type of movie made often in the 1970s -- a low-tech but visually authentic historical drama. As with '70s westerns, the point was to make a new kind of period drama emphasizing cinematic realism at the expense of entertainment values (instead of the other way around). The film is based on a Joseph Conrad story about a quarrel between two soldiers in Napoleon's army which turns into an obsessive folie a deux. Kind of a Gallic High Noon, but not as entertaining as High Noon.

A young, pigtailed Harvey Keitel plays Lt. Gabriel Feraud, a fool who likes to duel. Motivated by envy or wounded pride or French hotheadedness (it's not clear), Feraud picks a fight with soldier Armand D'Hubert (Keith Carradine). They duel. And duel again, and again. But their quarrel is unresolved and festers for decades, following the two men to Poland and eventually Russia, where the killing winter keeps the duellists from scrappin'. After the two men return to France, the regime changes and Feraud is arrested for treason, but D'Hubert intervenes to spare his life so that they can duel again.

The Duellists is not a bad film; the story is interesting, and the location scenes are well-chosen. But the action scenes are too widely spaced to keep the film from drifting into boredom, especially for audiences expecting non-stop action (such as Scott's later blockbusters deliver). Personally, I can't stand the French sensibility at the best of times, so I'm the wrong person for a movie like this. But the real problem is that the characters are underdrawn. As a result, it's hard to care much about Keitel's meatheaded character. Or Carradine's effeminate soldier. Or the women who love them (though Diana Quick shines in a small role as D'Hubert's mistress who later becomes a prostitute).



The Duellists

Facts and Figures

Run time: 100 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 1st December 1977

Budget: $900 thousand

Production compaines: Enigma Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Fresh: 20 Rotten: 2

IMDB: 7.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as D'Hubert, as Feraud, as Fouche, as Gen. Treillard, as Dr. Jacquin, as Chevalier, as Laura, as Lacourbe, as Adele, as Colonel, as Narrator (voice)

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Zoolander 2 Movie Review

Zoolander 2 Movie Review

With virtually the same blend of wit and idiocy as the 2001 original, this fashion-scene...

A Bigger Splash Movie Review

A Bigger Splash Movie Review

Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love) reteams with Tilda Swinton for this fresh, tricky...

Deadpool Movie Review

Deadpool Movie Review

Both the filmmakers and the characters on-screen are so pleased with themselves that this might...

Trumbo Movie Review

Trumbo Movie Review

An entertaining film about sobering true events, this is the story of notorious screenwriter Dalton...

Goosebumps Movie Review

Goosebumps Movie Review

Mixing the action, comedy and horror from novelist R.L. Stein's books into a family-friendly package,...

Dad's Army Movie Review

Dad's Army Movie Review

The beloved 1970s British sit-com gets the big screen treatment, although there's been very little...

Spotlight Movie Review

Spotlight Movie Review

This film demonstrates that you don't need guns to make an exciting thriller. Based on...

Advertisement
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

Not the subtlest director working in Hollywood, Michael Bay brings his surging machismo to this...

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

There's nothing clever about this deliberately rude and vulgar comedy, but certain audiences will find...

The Big Short Movie Review

The Big Short Movie Review

Smart and snappy, this comedy is one of the scariest films of the year, using...

The 5th Wave Movie Review

The 5th Wave Movie Review

Also based on the first in a trilogy of post-apocalyptic teen novels, this thriller feels...

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart reteam for a sequel no one really asked for, following...

Room Movie Review

Room Movie Review

One of the most extraordinary films of the year, this drama cleverly weaves in events...

Creed Movie Review

Creed Movie Review

While this film is basically Rocky VII, it's also much more than that, and perhaps...

A Perfect Day Movie Review

A Perfect Day Movie Review

An irreverent comedy in the style of the original M.A.S.H., this wartime romp takes an...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.