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The Duellists (1977)

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  • The Duellists (1977)

    This was recommended here on this form by Freddy and Dremble Wedge. I am only sorry I had not found it before. It is a beautiful film.



    This was the first film made by director Ridley Scott and as a matter of interest it was the British entry at Cannes. Scott won an award for the Best First Work.



    Anyone who cares about film as a visual medium should see this for many reasons: The use of natural light in both indoor and outdoor filming and the location filming in London, Scotland and France, especially the sequences in Dordogne. I have never before seen a film that made such effective use of clouds, sun, woods, ancient stone and shadow at different times in the day.



    There are three sequences that are my favorites:



    The first duel with the participants: a beautiful stone house, trees, grass a road and sky are all part of a moving image.



    The retreat from Moscow. This is the single winter sequence with snow and bitter cold. The production is just as effective here.



    Another duel (there will be no spoilers) that takes place in the magnificent ruin of a castle and the surrounding forest and hills. The direction and the editing are flawless.



    I will name several people here who deserve recognition:



    Cinematography: Frank Tidy

    Editing: Pamela Power

    Production Design: Peter J. Hampton

    Writer: Gerald Vaughan-Hughes (from the Conrad novel)

    Art Direction: Bryan Graves

    Writer: Gerald Vaughan-Hughes (from the Conrad novel)

    Costumes: Tom Rand

    Music: Howard Blake



    Some of the casting is strange. Keth Carradine is too callow for d'Hubert; Harvey Keitel is also an odd choice, but he becomes very effective in his obsession.

    Scott mentions on the DVD that he wanted Oliver Reed and Michael York, who were at the top of their careers at the time. But they were too expensive.



    Carradine and Keitel are not larger than life but they do succeed as symbols. The focus is then on the story and the passage of time.



    The supporting cast is top notch: Albert Finney, Tom Conti, Edward Fox, Diana Quick (who is either very beautiful or strange looking), Robert Stephenson, John McEnery, Alan Webb, Maurice Colbourne, Christina Raines and Meg Wynn Owen.

    The DVD also has Scott's very interesting commentary and a dialogue with US director Kevin Reynolds, who was strongly influenced by the film.



    It is the best example I know of a outstanding film made for a tiny fraction of the usual cost of major productions.

  • #2
    I have the DVD, but I am really tempted by the Blu Ray, even though its almost £20 and a Spanish import!

    I do have an film original poster, which is a fantastic design, as is basically the whole film. I must admit to finding Carradine perfectly acceptable, and Keitel pretty much fizzes with his obsession. Diana Quick - utterly beautiful!

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Bonekicker View Post
      I have the DVD, but I am really tempted by the Blu Ray, even though its almost £20 and a Spanish import!

      I do have an film original poster, which is a fantastic design, as is basically the whole film. I must admit to finding Carradine perfectly acceptable, and Keitel pretty much fizzes with his obsession. Diana Quick - utterly beautiful!
      A poster - that would be worth having. The Duellists is such magnificent visual experience that I will play scenes again and again just to enjoy the spectacle. It is a tribute to Ridley Scott and the entire production team that they created a film with the power of a spectacle on a low budget, and without all the technology that often replaces imagination now.
      Last edited by TimR; 1st March 2017, 10:44 PM.

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      • #4
        I got a really good deal on it in the end from a Las Vegas dealer - its a Style A (27 x 40 , which is easier to frame than a UK quad) like this: http://www.impawards.com/1978/duellists.html

        Because its a bit of an iconic film original posters tend to fetch high prices - even the foreign ones, hence my luck at getting one for about £25 all in. My tip is to do a Google search for 'Duellists + original poster + ebay'. That way you'll get the US ebay first, http://www.ebay.com/sch/Movie-Poster...2312176/i.html which has a much wider selection of posters than just the UK site. And its divided into US originals and International originals - repros are the bain of anyone searching for a poster. However, even the Polish ones at the moment are getting high prices (it is attractive), but $37 for a Spanish one isn't too bad.

        True, you'll have to pay P & P, so its worth looking to see what else the seller has, but at least most sellers now allow you to just buy it there and then, rather than bid on everything only to find you need up with the ballast, and not what you were out to get. Try to avoid Ebays shipping service - it was a total pain for me and my seller when it was used. And look internationally - there were sellers in the Lebanon with some interesting stuff at decent prices, and shipping in bulk was pretty reasonable. And certainly check out Ebay Ireland - lots of UK quads, etc, postage is pretty good, they'll include the European offers, and you can get sometimes get strangely good prices.

        There is also movieposter.com if you want a 'one stop shop', which may have something, And there is a poster auction site (which I keep forgetting to use) http://www.emovieposter.com/ . This site http://www.learnaboutmovieposters.com/ is very useful.

        I just have a wants list, and when I get some cash for a birthday, etc then I'll have a look, mark off the ones I might be interested in, and see what else there is from the same seller. What I do find is that if you avoid the iconic films like Bond (Goldfinger original = new car) and Carry On, etc, there are some real bargains if your patient and lucky. The other thing that you find is just how many posters you see of films that you dont remember at all, starring people that your first thought is 'they were in that?' . Lets just say the movie business is full of dross, and always has been.

        Good luck.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Bonekicker View Post
          I got a really good deal on it in the end from a Las Vegas dealer - its a Style A (27 x 40 , which is easier to frame than a UK quad) like this: http://www.impawards.com/1978/duellists.html
          Thanks for the info - that is a gem. I have never seen that before.

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