Friday, 27 August 2010

Film Review: THE DUELLISTS (1977)

Director: Ridley Scott
Running time: 100 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): PG

UK release date: December 1977

Watched on Sky+ Friday 27th August 2010.


I noticed this was on TV this week and, as a fan of Ridley Scott, I couldn’t pass up the chance to see the film that made his directorial debut. Released two years before the seminal Alien, this was his first feature film, having directed several TV shows and one short beforehand. It is set at the beginning of the 1800’s at the start of Napoleon’s rise to power in France.

Two soldiers, Lieutenants in Napoleon’s army, D'Hubert and Feraud come to blows over an off-hand remark made by one of them. We then follow the life of D'Hubert as he progresses through the ranks, a life that is interspersed with duels against Feraud whenever they cross paths. Somehow both survive each duel and so the cycle begins again. Even after Napoleon is deposed the pair still continues their quest for honour. That is until the final duel, but I’m not going to spoil the ending for you.

This is a beautifully shot film; some of the scenes could be oil paintings if they didn’t move. Decent performances from both Keith Carradine as D’Hubert and Harvey Keitel as Feraud. Honourable mentions must also go to Albert Finney as Fouche, Edward Fox as the Colonel, Cristina Raines as Adele, Tom Conti as Dr. Jacquin and Diana Quick as Laura.

There is quite a slow pace to the story which I found a little frustrating at times, but didn’t distract me too much. The thing that really did let this film down was the quality of the soundtrack. At times the speech was hardly discernable and this didn’t aid my enjoyment one bit. It’s a shame, but I guess there’s little that can be done about it now. So, to summarise, I found this an interesting film, if slightly flawed, beautifully shot and a very good first effort from Ridley Scott, oh yes, and some great moustaches! Recommended.

My score: 6.9/10

IMDb Site:

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