The Duellists

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

Drama War
100 min     7.316     1977     United Kingdom


In 1800, as Napoleon Bonaparte rises to power in France, a rivalry erupts between Armand and Gabriel, two lieutenants in the French Army, over a perceived insult. For over a decade, they engage in a series of duels amidst larger conflicts, including the failed French invasion of Russia in 1812, and shifts in the political and social systems of Europe.


CinemaSerf wrote:
After what can only be described as the most minor of misunderstandings, the decent "d'Hubert" (Keith Carradine) is forced to duel with the hot-tempered "Feraud" (Harvey Keitel). That ends inconclusively and now the narrative leads us through a series of re-matches set against a tale of their trials and tribulations during the rise and fall of Napoleon in early 1800s France. Joseph Conrad wrote a characterful story and Ridley Scott makes full use of that with a focused, frequency pithy and entertaining, dialogue and two measured and engaging leading performances with plenty of entertaining swordplay. The supporting cast is as A-list as you're ever likely to get in a non-romantic period drama. Albert Finney and Edward Fox, Tom Conti and an on form Robert Stephens as well Cristina Raines' charming effort as "Adèle" contribute well. All are dressed perfectly amidst settings that suit this gritty and battle-worn story perfectly, too. It's a cunningly devised theme, this - it has the obvious storyline, but also takes well aimed swipes at pomposity, the futility of war, and the stupidity of man - all in a manner that resonates cleverly, even now. It was clearly produced on a limited budget, which is apparent from time to time with the continuity (never one of Scott's strong suits) or with some overused extras amongst the soldiers - but, overall, it is a testament to what can be done in a relatively short film, with a good story and cast and some creative leadership behind the camera.