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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
Release Date: 19-AUG-2003
Media Type: DVD
- Commentary by Director Ridley Scott
- Duelling Directors: Ridley Scott and Keven Reynolds featurette
- "Boy and Bicycle" - Ridley Scott's first short film
- Photo Galleries
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
The costumes and settings; mostly in The Dordogne, make the film not only totally authentic but defy the viewer to believe that it was made on a shoestring budget. The visual splendour challenges any modern filmaker to create the same effect without spending a vault full of money to achieve it. That is only part of the appeal of the film.
The acting performances, particularly by Keitel, want for nothing. The scene with Feraud standing on a cliff overlooking the river valley, taken in context, makes you realise that his life and pretensions to honor have been for nothing. His mania for revenge has cost him everything. Melded to the other performances with superlative skill by Ridley Scott, this film is a masterpiece and has now gone from a film I liked a lot to one which is now firmly wedged in my top ten. Like as not, it will stay there for a long time.
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.
In all seriousness this was a great movie. One could enjoy the honor and the bravery that men carried in those days.
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