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The Duellists

4.5 out of 5 stars 233 customer reviews

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(Dec 03, 2002)
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Editorial Reviews

Two officers in Napoleon's army violently confront each other in a series of savage duels that escalate into a consuming passion that rules the lives of the men for the next thirty years.
Genre: Feature Film-Drama
Rating: PG
Release Date: 19-AUG-2003
Media Type: DVD

Special Features

  • Commentary by Director Ridley Scott
  • Duelling Directors: Ridley Scott and Keven Reynolds featurette
  • "Boy and Bicycle" - Ridley Scott's first short film
  • Photo Galleries
  • Storyboards

Product Details

  • Actors: Keith Carradine, Harvey Keitel, Albert Finney, Edward Fox, Cristina Raines
  • Directors: Ridley Scott
  • Writers: Gerald Vaughan-Hughes, Joseph Conrad
  • Producers: David Puttnam, Ivor Powell
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: December 3, 2002
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (233 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00006JU7U
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,119 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Duellists" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Based on Joseph Conrad's book "The Duel", the true story of a 30-year feud between two Napoleonic cavalry officers, "The Duellists" was Ridley Scott's first major film. Starring Keith Carradine as the pompous D'Hubert and a particularly menacing Harvey Keitel as Feraud, the film climbs inside the minds of two men for whom honor is more important than life itself.
The two antagonists begin their series of bloody encounters when D'Hubert is ordered by his commanding general to arrest Feraud for wounding the local mayor's nephew in a duel. Feraud, in a hopelessly irrational state, challenges D'Hubert to a duel, which is carried out more or less on the spot. D'Hubert comes off slightly better in the initial encounter, which only serves to fuel Feraud's rage, and the course of the film is set.
The cinematography of this film, shot by Frank Tidy, is almost beyond comparison. The previous versions on VHS simply looked muddy and rather washed out. The colors lacked any real saturation, rendering Feraud's bottle-green dolman black and it almost looked like a poor quality black and white in some scenes, especially those set in Napoleon's abortive Russian campaign.
The DVD transfer, by contrast, is staggeringly beautiful and releases colors, which I did not realize existed in the original. I am, by coincidence, a professional cameraman and I rate this as the best shot film I have ever seen. The only criticism I have is a somewhat inconsistent use of graduated filters, which, whilst they were probably quite innovative for their day, don't always work well. Grads are always a problem and any film made since will tend to suffer the same way. A very minor point.
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Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Ridley Scott made this film in the mid-70's prior to going into the big time with such hits as "Alien." While obtaining film making experience by making commercials, he learned to visually pack an image and do so with exciting details. "The Duelist" was made on a shoe string, but looks like it cost 10-20 times as much. Every dollar is on the screen. The sets and costumes are excellent. The camera style--dramatic and romantic-- often captures scenes that looked like they have been painted by David, a major French painter of that period. Exteriors show period chateaus in early morning light under blue skies, while the interiors are bathed in candle light. The sword play is wonderfully visualized as both men fight each other in a series of duels over many years. Both Carradine and Keitel are excellent as two officers serving under Napoleon that must live by a code--no matter how that severe code of honor affects their lives in war or peace time. This excellent action film is a jewel. See it. Hopefully, it will come on DVD soon.
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Format: DVD
Director Ridley Scott (Thelma & Louise, Gladiator, Alien) made his directorial debut with this overlooked gem - THE DUELLISTS, based on a story by Joseph Conrad. Released in 1977, the movie didn't make much of an impact in the US, although it was nominated for the Golden Palm at Cannes and won Scott the coveted Best First Work at that festival.
The movie chronicles the long-lasting feud between two French officers, the hot-headed Feraud (played by Harvey Keitel) and the more even-keeled D'Hubbert (played by Keith Carradine), during the Napoleonic wars. The feud has murky beginnings, but it lasts for decades due to the lead characters' desires to avoid losing their "honor." As they cross paths during various parts of their lives, they duel.
The duel scenes are well-filmed and add a great deal of excitement to the plot. The main story is also interesting, as the men's duels forge an unlikely relationship between them. The lead actors do a passable job in their roles, although they seem out of place amongst the largely British supporting players; Keitel actually seems more at place in the film, despite his eastern accent. Finally, the cinematography is stunning, and it's one of the most beautiful looking films of its period; the look of the film is a bit like "Barry Lyndon," although the tone is warmer. Overall, this film is an intriguing part of the Ridley Scott canon; it stands among his best works and one of the most overlooked films of the 70s.
DVD extras: director's commentary with Ridley Scott, and director Keith Reynolds also interviews Scott.
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Format: VHS Tape
Ridley Scott's first theatrical release, "The Duellists", is a thought-provoking exploration of the rivalry between two officers in Napoleon's army. The plot is taken from the Joseph Conrad short story, "The Duel", in which two French officers face each other in a series of duels over 15 years. Keith Carradine plays Lt. Armand d'Hubert, a Hussar of Napoleon's cavalry, who is sent on a routine errand to arrest Lt. Gabriel Ferraud (played by Harvey Keitel), for having wounded a man in a duel. Upon hearing of his arrest, Ferraud challenges d'Hubert to a duel, which both survive. Although d'Hubert is reluctant to fight, and though forbidden by his commanding general to confront Ferraud while the army is at war, he cannot avoid the other man's challenges. What was merely a perceived insult on Ferraud's part becomes a matter of honor. In early 19th century military fashion, the duel was an acceptable, if unsanctioned, way of defending one's reputation. D'Hubert, too, seems drawn to the violent encounters, as a way of setting the record straight (if not for Ferraud, at least for the troop). Both men are portrayed as loyal and able soldiers. D'Hubert is laid-back, cautious yet brave, his loyalty to Napoleon tempered by realism. Ferraud is touchy, combative, fanatical. Even after the Emperor's final defeat he remains sure of his devotion. In the final chapter of the film we see d'Hubert settled in quiet married domesticity (and security in the restored King Louis XVIII's army), while Ferraud languishes in obscurity as an outdated Bonapartite. The two men (now generals) will meet for a final time. The outcome is intriguing, and it follows Conrad's story to a melancholy end.Read more ›
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