Sunday, February 24, 2013

Ridley Scott: The Duellists

The Duellists (1977), Ridley Scott's first movie, follows two French cavalrymen (hussars) on a long duelling arc that spans the life of Napoleon's empire and beyond. Beautiful film with meticulous attention to detail. As for the duelling, it's pure macho madness, the two men acting like popinjays at first, grim fighters as they become more experienced. Their long-running quarrel is more hubris-fueled than substantive, with Feraud (the Harvey Keitel character) refusing to let it go and d'Hubert (the Keith Carradine character) feeling like a stalked man who must keep spinning around for another fight.

A few additional notes. One, that The Duellists is based on Joseph Conrad's "The Duel: A Military Story" (1908), aka "The Point of Honor." Two, we come to understand a lot more about d'Hubert than we do about Feraud. Before their final duel, we see how much d'Hubert has come to treasure life, made manifest as he joyfully observes his surroundings. And: there are women involved at nearly every turn, so this can unabashedly be watched by just about anyone, even those who usually don't like anything that smacks of an "old war movie."

Today's Rune: Signals.            

No comments: