Monday, April 11, 2016

The Duellists

The Duellists is a 1977 historical drama based on Joseph Conrad's short story The Duel, which can be read online here. It won the best debut film award at Cannes for director Ridley Scott. It stars Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel as the rival duellists, covering a lifetime of antagonism. Also in this are Albert Finney and Hugh Fraser. Stacy Keach narrates. A fascinating film, it was hard to look away. Riveting and beautiful.


The Guardian closes with this: "A splendid recreation of Napoleonic France and a compelling movie to boot. En garde!" The New Yorker calls it "gorgeous and thrilling" and says it's "one of the most impressive directorial d├ębuts in British movie history."

The NYT concludes with this:
What one carries away from the film, though, is a memory of almost indescribable beauty, of landscapes at dawn, of over-crowded, murky interiors, of underlit hallways and brilliantly sunlit gardens. It's not a frivolous prettiness, but an evocation of time and place through images that are virtually tactile, and which give real urgency to this curious tale. It's marvelous.

Slant Magazine gives it 4 out of 5 stars and praises the direction, saying, "on the occasions when the filmmaker has found source material with narrative and themes strong enough to support his commercially honed aesthetic, he has turned out films that seamlessly, and with seeming effortlessness, conflate form and content." Empire Online gives it 4 stars and concludes, "The richness of Scott's visuals, the excellence of the performances and the depth of the themes combine to make a minor masterpiece."

Rotten Tomatoes has a 91% critics score. Roger Ebert calls it "cerebral, elegant".


  1. I had NO idea Ridley Scott was that old, or had been directing since the late 70s. This sounds like an incredible film.

    1. Yes, he's 78! Born in 1937. Hard to believe. This one is worth seeing. I love Blade Runner and am curious about the projected Prisoner re-boot tv series.

  2. This does sound good. I shall keep it for later. Thanks for the tip. I loved Blade Runner, too... :-)

    1. He does such a variety of movies, doesn't he. And that this one was a debut film amazes me.