Gerald Vaughan-hughes

Gerald Vaughan-hughes

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The Duellists Review


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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.

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