The Duellists (1977)

PG  |   |  Drama, War  |  December 1977 (UK)
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Reviews: 92 user | 54 critic

A duel between two feuding Napoleonic officers eventually evolves into a decades-long series of duels, after each bout - for various reasons - ends unresolved.



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



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Gen. Treillard
Dr. Jacquin
Maurice Colbourne ...
Gay Hamilton ...
Meg Wynn Owen ...
Mme. de Lionne
Alan Webb ...


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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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


Drama | War


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

December 1977 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Duellists  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$900,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Theatrical feature film debut of director Ridley Scott who for this film won the Best First Film Award at the 30th Cannes Film Festival in 1977. The movie was also the first film of cinematographer Frank Tidy as well as the first cinema movie of actor Pete Postlethwaite who played the small role of a man shaving General Treillard. See more »


When d'Hubert and the doctor discuss the ways of avoiding duels with Feraud, the doctor brings two bottles of wine. He hands d'Hubert a corkscrew, but d'Hubert leans back in his chair and starts stuffing his pipe. Yet literally two seconds later the doctor also sits down and picks up a glass from the table, where an opened bottle is standing. d'Hubert has also suddenly got a full glass. See more »


[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 »


Spoofed in Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993) See more »


Bist du bei mir
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.

77 of 81 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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