Set in the year 1801, in France, The Duellists focuses on two-men, Armand d’Hubert (Keith Carradine) & Gabriel Feraud (Harvey Keitel). When Armand is given direct orders to speak with Gabriel in person, Gabriel claims that Armand has instead insulted and embarrassed him. What may seem like a minor disagreement between two men turns into a duel with swords—a duel to the death.
But unfortunately, this is a disagreement which does not get resolved in the one duel. Instead, the film shows our leads having many duels over several years. If a man gets wounded during the fight or if the duel becomes interrupted, both men respectfully walk away until they see each other again and continue the duel where they left off.
As a plot, I found it quite different to anything I have ever seen before. The introduction of the plot is positive as it introduces both key characters at a solid pace, and the main feud between both men is revealed. As you would expect, the most exciting elements of this film is when we see the men battle. Each duel also provides lots of tension, suspense, and many times, unknown outcomes. Once the plot is introduced, I was determined to finish the film and see the ending. This film had my investment.
The style of this film is positive too, and it feels rather convincing that the setting of this film is in the year 1801. Costuming, hair, style and makeup have been focused on with detail to convince the viewer of the period. The use of real buildings and houses were also great as it provided the audience with authenticity.
Thanks to the Australian Distributor, Imprint Films, I had the honour of seeing this film for the first time on Blu-ray. Considering this film was initially released in 1977, the rerelease results are tremendous, particularly when it comes to the visuals. The audio track was also positive with only a couple of minor nitpicks regarding the film’s dialogue at certain scenes. As a film, the pacing does slow down when the two leads are not fighting, duelling or sharing a scene.
Overall, The Duellists introduces a plot, unlike anything I have seen before in cinema. With a quick introduction to its leads and plot, I found myself rather eager to see how this film would end. It’s this type of investment I enjoy having when it comes to watching a classic movie. Thanks to the Australia Distributor, Imprint Films, my experience with this film directed by Ridley Scott was quite a positive one.
The Duellists (1977) is Now Available on Blu-ray
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Review Written by Peter Walkden