Duellists is one of this chap's favourite movies and its artistic
success is built on a terrific story, exemplary period details and
costumes, as well as having some of the most wonderful cinematography
ever put on to film.
follows two French Napoleonic cavalry officers - mild-mannered Armand
D'Hubert (Keith Carradine) and the quarrelsome Gabriel Ferraud (Harvey
Keitel) - throughout a 16-year series of duels.
are lieutenants when the movie begins and generals of brigade at
its close, but their personalities and fortunes differ widely as
they serve Napoleon Bonaparte.
intitial duel occurs because D'Hubert informs Ferraud he must face
the general for skewering a relative of the mayor of the town they
are billeted in.
that it's on for young and old every time the pair meet and the
fights themselves are something to behold. They really are excellently
staged and the guys look like they are going at it full bore.
superb sound - which counterpoints a sublime flute-dominated soundtrack
with the ringing harshness of blade on blade - will woo you as much
as the beautiful images in front of your eyes.
only way for D'Hubert, who fights for duty rather than for ill feeling,
can avoid personal combat is if he stays away from Ferraud, is of
a different rank, or the army is at war.
for him, but luckily for film buffs, that doesn't happen too often.
is at his most charming as D'Hubert, although Keitel's bitter and
fiery Ferraud is likely to be the character most remembered.
both are sensational and are backed-up by a wonderful support cast
that includes Tom Conti, Alun Armstrong, John McEnery, and Diana
Quick. Albert Finney does a fine cameo of Fouche, the arch-survivor,
and watch out for Pete Postlethwaite (who is mentioned in the credits
- but I missed during the viewing).
is hard to know where to fault this movie - after all it did win
an award at Cannes - other than to say that it doesn't go for long
enough at 96 minutes.
video transfer is excellent - with superbly toned colours - although
there are a few artefacts.
a word - stunning.