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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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Chevalier
...
...
Lacourbe
Maurice Colbourne ...
Second
Gay Hamilton ...
Maid
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...
Alan Webb ...
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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:

 »

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Box Office

Budget:

$900,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ridley Scott once said of the film's central theme: "The one man played by Harvey Keitel is a prisoner of his own hatred. He must kill, or be killed. Keith Carradine plays the other man who is honor bound to fight. It is a fascinating story of man's violence within himself." See more »

Goofs

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 »

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

Referenced in Film '72: Episode dated 10 December 2014 (2014) 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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