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The Duellists (1977)

PG | | Drama, War | December 1977 (UK)
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 "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 overview, first billed only:
Gen. Treillard
Dr. Jacquin
Maurice Colbourne ...
Gay Hamilton ...
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 <bole@life.bio.sunysb.edu>

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
See  »

Did You Know?


According to director Ridley Scott, Paramount gave him a list of four actors to choose from for the two leads, which he had to agree to in order to receive financing. Scott selected Carradine and Keitel, then spent several months trying to convince them to accept the roles. See more »


When Carradine is meeting with Finney, who sits down in a chair in front of a mirror, the very top of the camera is visible in the bottom of the mirror, as he sits down in his chair. 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.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: STRASBOURG 1800 See more »


References Sanjuro (1962) 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.

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D'Hubert + Foot Soldier in Russia? wogerdodger
What was the point of this movie? steatoda
How does this compare to Scott's other work? samuel-84
Why take rivals' name off death llist? rsr26
Anyone know what the Cossack said . . . joscco
Another view on the Duellists. fistjedi
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