The Duellists (1977): Movie Review

By Murtaza Ali Khan

Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews
The Duellists, Movie Poster, Directed by Ridley Scott
The Duellists (1977) By Ridley Scott
While people often hail Ridley Scott as the maker of films like Gladiator, Blade Runner, and Alien, they rarely talk about his debut film ‪'The Duellists' which can certainly be described as the single greatest achievement of Scott's highly decorated filmmaking career.

The Duellists has the look and the feel of a big budget film despite being shot on a budget that can be described as moderate at best. The film thrives on Scott's remarkable ability to spot and adapt untouched stories of master storytellers like Joseph Conrad (in case of The Duellists) and Philip K Dick (in case of Blade Runner).
Harvey Keitel and Keith Carradine in The Duellists
Harvey Keitel and Keith Carradine in The Duellists
The Duellists basically tells the story of two Napoleonic officers who engage in a series of uncompleted duels that go on intermittently for years. In a nutshell, it is a tale of pride and honor, and, more importantly, obsession. Harvey Keitel and Keith Carradine play their respective parts to a tee, brilliantly complementing their contrasting roles.

The movie's cinematography, editing, and music are absolutely topnotch and provide the perfect foil for Scott's ingenious direction and Gerald Vaughan-Hughes' brilliant adaptation of Conrad's short story which bear a striking resemblance to Hugo's Les Miserables.
A Still from Ridley Scott's The Duellists
A Still from Ridley Scott's The Duellists
The Duellists is a underrated masterpiece and certainly deserves more attention than it has received over the last 35 years or so. There is little doubt that it is the single greatest achievement of Ridley Scott's filmmaking career. The Duellists bears quite a few similarities with Stanley Kubrick's supremely masterful 'Barry Lyndon'—another film that deals with duels and notorious soldiers—and can be relished back-to-back with it. The Duellists is one of those films that every serious film-goer must watch at least once in his/her lifetime.

Rating: 10/10

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The Duellists Trailer (YouTube)

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