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The Duellists (1977)

PG | | Drama, War | February 1978 (UK)
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A small feud between two Napoleonic officers evolves into a decades-long series of duels.

Director:

Ridley Scott

Writers:

Gerald Vaughan-Hughes (screenplay), Joseph Conrad (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:
Keith Carradine ... d'Hubert
Harvey Keitel ... Feraud
Albert Finney ... Fouché
Edward Fox ... Colonel
Cristina Raines ... Adèle
Robert Stephens ... Gen. Treillard
Tom Conti ... Dr. Jacquin
John McEnery ... Chevalier
Diana Quick ... Laura
Alun Armstrong ... Lacourbe
Maurice Colbourne Maurice Colbourne ... Second
Gay Hamilton Gay Hamilton ... Maid
Meg Wynn Owen ... Léonie
Jenny Runacre ... Mme. de Lionne
Alan Webb Alan Webb ... 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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | Russian

Release Date:

February 1978 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Los duelistas See more »

Filming Locations:

Aquitaine, France See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

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

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Iron Maiden's song "The Duellists" from the album "Powerslave" is a song inspired by this movie. See more »

Goofs

At the start all the soldiers wear side plaits in their hair. When Laura writes "Goodbye" on D'Hubert's sword, he walks in with no plaits. He then fights a duel with plaits and visits the general with plaits. In the next scene we hear "military fashions have changed" and everyone is without plaits. 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.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: STRASBOURG 1800 See more »

Connections

Referenced in Creating a Myth... the Memories of 'Legend' (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Quest for honor in swordplay
21 May 2005 | by AtavistenSee all my reviews

How good this is caught me totally off guard, with 'Alien' and 'Bladerunner' I knew that Ridley Scott could turn out a good movie, but to do great sci-fi and then go on to a dueling duo in the times of the Napoleon wars is truly something.

Because of an insult Feraud cant seem to duel back his honor easily from D'Hubert and the obsession with which he keeps the feud alive has the determination of a true madman. D'Hubert has second thoughts all the time, but keeps bumping into Feraud a number of times during the passing of the Napoleon wars as they both serve in the army and for the sake of his honour he cant very well refuse to duel with him. Feraud on the other hand is ice cold and after revenge for something so small and silly that he probably has forgot.

Harvey Keitel fits perfectly as Feraud and together with his role in 'Bad Lieutenant' makes him a brilliant actor. Keith Carradine plays D'Hubert very convincing as well. To set them up against each other was a good idea.

Something that is often lost in bigger scale fight scenes is the tension and dynamics that is excellently brought forth here. From the stances and four - five - six powerful strikes afterwards one of them are potentially dead. In fact I don't know of fight scenes with as much power as seen here, though 'Gladiator' comes close. For pure action Ridley Scott is a master.

Without having read the book by Joseph Conrad it can truly be said that the script is a successful adaptation of it, one of many similar traits with 'Barry Lyndon'.

The outdoor scenes are so fresh that you feel the morning mist on your breath and the compositions has some sense of the art of the time, the sense that is also present when a stilleben of bread and wine is framed. Also similar to 'Barry Lyndon' is the fine use of the zoom lens. How this could be a debut is beyond me, but the other Scott, namely Tony also made a damn fine debut with 'The Hunger'. Too bad he couldn't follow up as Ridley did.

Flutes and violins add up to a perfect score.


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