The Duellists


The Duellists

Infobox Film
name = The Duellists


caption = Theatrical release poster
imdb_id = 0075968
director = Ridley Scott
producer = David Puttnam
music = Howard Blake
cinematography = Frank Tidy
writer = Gerald Vaughan-Hughes
Joseph Conrad (story)
starring = Keith Carradine
Harvey Keitel
editing = Pamela Power
distributor = Paramount Pictures
released = December, 1977
runtime = 100 min.
country = UK
language = English

"The Duellists" is a 1977 film, which was Ridley Scott's first feature film as a director. It won the Best Debut Film award at Cannes. The basis of the screen play is the Joseph Conrad short story "The Duel" (U. S. title: Point of Honor) published in "A Set of Six". Set during the Napoleonic Wars, it features two French Hussar officers, Armand D'Hubert and Gabriel Féraud (played by Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel). Their quarrel over an initially minor incident turns into a bitter, long-drawn out struggle over the following fifteen years, interwoven with the larger conflict that provides its backdrop. At the beginning, Feraud is the one who jealously guards his honor and repeatedly demands satisfaction anew when a duelling encounter ends inconclusively; he aggressively pursues every opportunity to locate and fight duels with his foe. As the story progresses, D'Hubert also finds himself caught up in the contest. He is unable to refuse Feraud's repeated challenges to fight duels or to walk away because of the rigid military honor code. The feud persists through the different campaigns of the Napoleonic war, and on into the period of the Bourbon restoration which follows. At times they meet but are of different rank in the army, preventing them from staging a duel. Each comes close to fatally wounding the other, D'Hubert being critically wounded in a duel with "epee", and Feraud later being slashed in a "joust" on horseback with cavalry sabres. One duel during the Retreat from Moscow is interrupted by Russian soldiers, and the two must ironically act together to survive.

After the fall of Napoleon, D'Hubert becomes a respected member of the restored aristocracy, while Feraud is an embittered member of the anti-monarchist party. Poor and despised, he still finds D'Hubert and challenges him. The final duel is a pursuit through a ruin with duelling pistols. Feraud misses his shot and is left completely defenceless with no escape when D'Hubert immediately seizes the initiative and corners him at gunpoint. However, instead firing, D'Hubert coldly informs Feraud that he has decided to spare his life - on condition that Feraud conducts himself in future as a "dead" person. In short, Feraud must never have any further contact whatsoever with D'Hubert ever again. Feraud has no option but to agree to these generous terms and he departs from the scene in shame.

The Conrad short story evidently has its genesis in the real duels that two French Hussar officers fought in the Napoleonic era. Their names were Dupont and Fournier, whom Conrad disguised slightly, changing Dupont into D'Hubert and Fournier into Feraud.

The film has been compared to Stanley Kubrick's "Barry Lyndon". In both films, duels play an essential role. In his commentary for the DVD release of his film Scott comments that he was trying to emulate the lush cinematography of Kubrick's film, which approached the naturalistic paintings of the era depicted. The film is lauded for its historically authentic portrayal of Napoleonic uniforms and military conduct, as well as its generally accurate early-nineteenth-century fencing techniques as recreated by fight choreographer William Hobbs.

The main locations used for shooting the movie were in and around Sarlat-la-Canéda in the Dordogne region of France.

External links

*imdb title|id=0075968|title=The Duellists


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