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The Duellists

Wonderful Film

(Edit) 22/06/2007

Ridley Scott's first feature is a study of honour, war, and the futility of violence.

Keitel,and Carradine play two napoleonic officers, locked in an ongoing duel. It goes with them out from France across thirty years of war, and returns back again, mirroring the fortunes of Napoleon. The cause of duel, never obvious, becomes increasingly unclear as the film progresses. It shows Kietel as a bully, and Carradine as a reasonable man trying to live by a code of honour he respects, but doesn't understand.

The film is beautifully photographed by Frank Tidy, with Scott himself operating the camera. The duels are if you like the set pieces of the film. They are almost formally choreographed, with Scott's direction keeping them edgy and dangerous. The final duel gives an interesting, and unexpected finale to a fine film. It rightly won Scott the best first work award at the 1977 Cannes film festival.

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