7.5/10
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99 user 62 critic

The Duellists (1977)

PG | | Drama, War | December 1977 (UK)
A small feud between two Napoleonic officers evolves into a decades-long series of duels.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (story "The Duel")
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Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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...
...
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Colonel
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Gen. Treillard
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Dr. Jacquin
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Chevalier
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Lacourbe
Maurice Colbourne ...
Second
Gay Hamilton ...
Maid
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Mme. de Lionne
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Chevalier

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Storyline

Set during the grand, sweeping Napoleonic age, an officer in the French army insults another officer and sets off a life-long enmity. The two officers, D'Hubert and Feraud, cross swords time and time again in an attempt to achieve justice and preserve their honor. Written by Greg Bole <bole@life.bio.sunysb.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Fencing is a science. Loving is a passion. Duelling is an obsession.

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

December 1977 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Duellists  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$900,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

D'Hubert wears the uniform of the 3rd Hussars regiment whilst Feraud wears that of the 7th. There were as many as twelve regiments of Hussars in the Naploeonic army at its height. Their role as light cavalry was mainly scouting and skirmishing. They regarded themselves as the elite of the cavalry, although many saw them as reckless wild cards. Their colourful uniforms and glamorous, devil-may-care attitude was attractive to the ladies and consequently they also had reputations for licentious behaviour that often preceded them. They were renowned for their fighting spirit and fiercely guarded code of honour. The film captures all of these elements to various degrees. See more »

Goofs

During their second duel (in a cellar) one of the large fill lights is visible in a doorway just at the end of the scene. The Director points this out in the 'cast commentary' on the DVD release. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Narrator: The duellist demands satisfaction. Honour, for him, is an appetite. This story is about an eccentric kind of hunger. It is a true story and begins in the year that Napoleon Bonaparte became ruler of France.
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Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: STRASBOURG 1800 See more »

Connections

References Lancelot of the Lake (1974) See more »

Soundtracks

Bist du bei mir
(uncredited)
Music by Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel
(from "Notenbüchlein für Anna Magdalena Bach" No. 25. BWV 508)
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Brilliant, understated, and thoroughly human.
6 April 2002 | by See all my reviews

This /is/ one of the best sword-fighting movies ever made, in that the choreography doesn't look like choreography. In the fight sequences, there's that rare sense of reticence, chance, uncertainty: of men thinking while they fight and trying to stay alive (The battle scenes in Kurosawa seem to me to share the same quality).

What sets this film apart (beyond its sheer visual gorgeousness) is its unremitting humanity and realism. Carradine as the protagonist is a decent enough, reasonable enough chap trying to live by an unreasonable and inflexible code. Keitel as Feraud is a cipher: charged with a wholly unreasonable hate the sources of which we never see. The movie steps through the ups and downs of war, fashion, politics. Though the film's structured around a series of violent combats, the struggle is finally a moral one. One man finally transcends the ideal of honor that's kept him a prisoner for fifteen years. The other is unable to.

This is a movie to watch, and to recommend to one's friends. It's lamentably not available yet in DVD, but can be found occasionally as a rental. Watch it for the costumes, the lighting, and the gorgeous camerawork. Watch it again for a movie that takes on The Big Issues. Brilliant.


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