The Duellists

"Good"

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

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

An unusually realistic teen movie, this drama gets deep under the skin of its characters,...

Bleed for This Movie Review

Bleed for This Movie Review

This is such a ripping true story that it can't help but grab hold of...

Moana Movie Review

Moana Movie Review

In a clear echo of Frozen, this Disney animated adventure centres on a fiercely independent...

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

The 2003 comedy Bad Santa is a holiday classic that skilfully mixes gross-out humour with...

Allied Movie Review

Allied Movie Review

There's a terrific script at the heart of this World War II thriller, with a...

A United Kingdom Movie Review

A United Kingdom Movie Review

Based on a powerful true story from the late 1940s, this drama is packed with...

Indignation Movie Review

Indignation Movie Review

Philip Roth's layered novels are a challenge for filmmakers (see also 2003's The Human Stain...

Advertisement
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

It's been five years since the last Harry Potter movie, and J.K. Rowling has been...

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Yet another bonkers thriller starring Nicolas Cage, this trashy crime comedy comes from director Paul...

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

"Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall" is a DVD...

Arrival Movie Review

Arrival Movie Review

This sci-fi drama has an enjoyably brain-bending plot that leaves the audience almost stunned with...

Elle Movie Review

Elle Movie Review

There's a boldly comical tone to this outrageous thriller that can't help but unnerve audiences...

100 Streets Movie Review

100 Streets Movie Review

A multi-strand drama set in London, this film is very nicely shot and acted, but...

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

It's been seven years since designer Tom Ford made a splash with his award-winning writing-directing...

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.