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  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: UK Freddy's Avatar
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    This was Ridley Scott's first film, done a small budget, based on the book by Joseph Conrad (The Duel).

    At 100 minutes long it depicts the duels between two french officers, D'Hubert played by Keith Carradine and Feraud played by Harvey Keital.



    Set during the Napoleonic Wars, an order given to D'Hubert to hand to Feraud begins the series of duels which are burdensome to D'Hubert but life giving to Feraud.It is these duels, matters of honour which are the chapters in their lives. It shows the common humanity of D'Hubert and the relentless, dogged pursuit of Feraud in righting his perceived wrong.

    Partly narrated by Stacey Keach, these are the only three American actors in the film.

    The British actors include Tom Conti, Albert Finney, Edward Fox, Diane Quick, Peter Postlethwaite, Alun Armstrong, Liz Smith and Robert Stephens. That you will agree is one fine stable of talent.



    The script is by Gerald Vaughan-Hughes and the cinematography is by Frank Tidy and this is where the film for me stands head and shoulders above everything else. It is like watching a moving oil painting, the lighting, colour and mood of place just make you sink into the film, it carries you into the script and narration, and in these days of computer enhanced images which IMHO are never very good(Gladiatior apart) it is a joy.

    It won the Palm D'or of that year, I lent the video to a friend who watched it twice in one afternoon. Two other films which are similar in style are Barry Lyndon and Joseph Andrews.



    regards

    Freddy

  2. #2
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    Went to the press showing of this back in the days when I was a student hack. I enjoyed it very much, mostly from a visual point of view. You are spot on when you say it looks like a moving oil painting - at the time I don't think I had seen anything to compare with it in terms of its cinematography. Content-wise its a slight piece and I have to say I didn't think the central story held up over feature film length but it is well-acted by all concerned ( not least by its two American stars ) and is never less than ravishing to look at. A shame it never seems to be on TV.

  3. #3
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    I really enjoyed The Duellists. As a Napoleonic enthusiast I found the film to be immensely enjoyable even though it was low-budget. Ridley Scott hails from the same town as I do, so the film has an extra special bond with me.



    One thing I never quite grasped was - What exactly started the fifteen-year long series of duels between the two main characters?

  4. #4
    Senior Member Country: UK Freddy's Avatar
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    One thing I never quite grasped was - What exactly started the fifteen-year long series of duels between the two main characters?
    Feraud is a bully and enjoys duelling. He is also ardent Bonapartist where D'Hubert is simply a soldier doing his duty. I think Feraud felt that D'Hubert was a lackey and when he presented himself at Mme. de Lionne's house with orders for him to return to his barracks he showed disrespect. Also Feraud imagined an insult made by D'Hubert against Napoleon.



    Regards



    Freddy

  5. #5
    Senior Member Country: Scotland silverwhistle's Avatar
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    A superb film: Scott has done few things as good since. Richard Holmes was military adviser on it, too.

  6. #6
    Super Moderator Country: UK christoph404's Avatar
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    The cast and crew came to Scotland to film the winter snow scenes near Aviemore! I think Harvey Kietel must like Scotland, he visited again to make the feature film "Deathwatch" on the mean streets of Glasgow!.....

  7. #7
    Senior Member Country: Aaland dremble wedge's Avatar
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    It won the Palm D'or of that year
    It's a tremendous film but Padre Padrone won the Palme d'Or in 1977.



    The Duellists won the prize for best debut film at Cannes that year.



    In the doc accompanying the DVD Scott says that he wanted to cast Michael York and Oliver Reed as the protagonists but the studio insisted on American stars.



    Carradine and Keitel were very good though...

  8. #8
    Senior Member Country: UK Freddy's Avatar
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    Cheers Dremble



    Freddy

  9. #9
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    Brilliant film.My favourite.Some of the early morning shots look like watercolours.Superb.Speaking as a horseman Harvey Kietel doesn't look to clever a rider though! But I'll forgive him that.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    This was recommended here on this form by Freddy and Dremble Wedge. I am only sorry I had not found it before. It is a beautiful film.



    This was the first film made by director Ridley Scott and as a matter of interest it was the British entry at Cannes. Scott won an award for the Best First Work.



    Anyone who cares about film as a visual medium should see this for many reasons: The use of natural light in both indoor and outdoor filming and the location filming in London, Scotland and France � especially the sequences in Dordogne. I have never before seen a film that made such effective use of clouds, sun, woods, ancient stone and shadow at different times in the day.



    There are three sequences that are my favorites:



    The first duel with the participants: a beautiful stone house, trees, grass a road and sky are all part of a moving image.



    The retreat from Moscow. This is the single winter sequence with snow and bitter cold. The production is just as effective here.



    Another duel (there will be no spoilers) that takes place in the magnificent ruin of a castle and the surrounding forest and hills. The direction and the editing are flawless.



    I will name several people here who deserve recognition:



    Cinematography: Frank Tidy

    Editing: Pamela Power

    Production Design: Peter J. Hampton

    Writer: Gerald Vaughan-Hughes (from the Conrad novel)

    Art Direction: Bryan Graves

    Writer: Gerald Vaughan-Hughes (from the Conrad novel)

    Costumes: Tom Rand

    Music: Howard Blake



    Some of the casting is strange. Keth Carradine is too callow for d�Hubert; Harvey Keitel is also an odd choice, but he becomes very effective in his obsession.

    Scott mentions on the DVD that he wanted Oliver Reed and Michael York, who were at the top of their careers at the time. But they were too expensive.



    Carradine and Keitel are not larger than life but they do succeed as symbols. The focus is then on the story and the passage of time.



    The supporting cast is top notch: Albert Finney, Tom Conti, Edward Fox, Diana Quick (who is either very beautiful or strange looking), Robert Stephenson, John McEnery, Alan Webb, Maurice Colbourne, Christina Raines and Meg Wynn Owen.

    The DVD also has Scott�s very interesting commentary and a dialogue with US director Kevin Reynolds, who was strongly influenced by the film.



    It is the best example I know of a outstanding film made for a tiny fraction of the usual cost of major productions.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Country: Ireland jimw1's Avatar
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    An outstanding Film......Its been in my top 10 ever since I saw it in the 70's..........

    brilliant performances all round

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VVHSounmrE

  12. #12
    Senior Member Country: UK Freddy's Avatar
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    I wondered if the choice of Harvey Keitel and Keith Carradine was to extend its market reach to America, it didn't bother me that much because I couldn't fault their performances. I didn't know about the choice of Reed and York, I'm quite relieved that it didn't happen as looking at IMDb they had both been in the Three Musketeers (73) and Four Musketeers(74) so there might have been a danger that The Duellists would have been seen as an extension of their previous films.



    Nothing is rushed in this film, the camera lingers and it really is a joy.



    Freddy

  13. #13
    Super Moderator Country: UK christoph404's Avatar
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    The winter scenes with the deep snow and blizzard were filmed in the Cairngorms mountain range in Scotland near Aviemore, I think it was one of the few places in Europe to find real snow and sub zero temperatures in the middle of summer.......my Scottish kinsmen will appreciate that joke, the crew did come to Scotland for those scenes though.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Country: England phil's Avatar
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    I have'nt seen this for at least ten years or so but it is a wonderful film. I must watch it again soon.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    The winter scenes with the deep snow and blizzard were filmed in the Cairngorms mountain range in Scotland near Aviemore, I think it was one of the few places in Europe to find real snow and sub zero temperatures in the middle of summer.......my Scottish kinsmen will appreciate that joke, the crew did come to Scotland for those scenes though.
    I was wondering how they managed to achieve the effect of a brutal midwinter that resulted in so many deaths. The sudden intrusion of a blue and silver and white world in the middle of the rich color of the rest of the film works extremely well.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    I wondered if the choice of Harvey Keitel and Keith Carradine was to extend its market reach to America, it didn't bother me that much because I couldn't fault their performances. I didn't know about the choice of Reed and York, I'm quite relieved that it didn't happen as looking at IMDb they had both been in the Three Musketeers (73) and Four Musketeers(74) so there might have been a danger that The Duellists would have been seen as an extension of their previous films.
    Yes, I agree - I recall that both York and Reed were well known at the time, and the Musketeers films (which I didn't care for) were suprisingly successful here in the US. York made several other popular films and Reed was known from Oliver and Women in Love.



    They both have a strong presence on film. That is especially true of Reed who would probably have done an outstanding job, but he eats up the camera in any film he is in. This was a graceful, unusual film that relied on atmosphere and sutbtlety far more than most historical films do. Reed's snarling and glowering would likely have overwhelmed the production. York would have been an intriguing choice.



    I don't think Keitel and Carradine would have made much difference to the US audience as neither was a 'box office' name, and those of us who like historical films never care whether the cast includes Americans. I found Carradine's voice jarring at first, but I did get used to it.



    Nothing is rushed in this film, the camera lingers and it really is a joy.
    Yes, agreed again. I am usually disappointed at the rapid pace of period films.



    A Man For All Seasons is superb, but it is over so quickly there is barely time to think about it. The production design in Becket - another favorite of mine - is so rich and detailed that I just wanted the scenes go on in order to appreciate it. The Duellists always allows for that.

  17. #17
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    Great film, but does anyone else get a touch pof Pythons about the vendetta?

  18. #18
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    I just watched this gem of a film again - and I found myself wishing that the greatly talented Ridley Scott would make more thoughtful, highly detailed, brilliantly designed historical films like this.

    I am prejudiced in favor of historical drama and I know they are out of fashion now. But what a pleasure it would be if Scott did turn his attention to this sort of film again.

  19. #19
    Senior Member dpgmel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TimR View Post
    I just watched this gem of a film again - and I found myself wishing that the greatly talented Ridley Scott would make more thoughtful, highly detailed, brilliantly designed historical films like this.

    I am prejudiced in favor of historical drama and I know they are out of fashion now. But what a pleasure it would be if Scott did turn his attention to this sort of film again.
    A man after my own heart

    A gem of a film and probably my most watched " modern " ( post 1970 ) film, remember being stunned by this when I first saw it at the cinema many moons ago. Visually ravishing.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dpgmel View Post
    A man after my own heart

    A gem of a film and probably my most watched " modern " ( post 1970 ) film, remember being stunned by this when I first saw it at the cinema many moons ago. Visually ravishing.
    I agree about the 1970 cut-off point.

    I have never seen this on the large screen; I would love to some day. A film as beautiful as this belongs on the screen it was made for.

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