The Duellists is a 1977 period drama movie set in France during the time of Napoleon's rule. It was awarded "Best Debut Film" at the 1977 Cannes Film Festival. It was the movie that launched British director Ridley Scott. It also shows that a great film can be made on a modest budget with great cinematography, good actors and good musical themes.
The story is based on Joseph Conrad's book and is about one man's twisted obsession and another man's entrapment of his notion of honour and fair play. The two men quarrel over a trivial thing and a duel ensues from the pointless argument. However, one man is twisted and obsessed by his notion of the insult and wants to constantly continue the duel on other occasions when both cavalry officers cross paths over the years. Each officer acquires celebrity status because of this. One enjoying the adulation and the more sensible one, not caring for the interest that the pointless competing attracts. The story takes place over a period of sixteen years from 1800 to 1816.
Some of the cinematography is wonderful - typical Ridley Scott with light and shadows. The climatic ending is fabulous because of the wonderful scenery. We have a fine hero and an excellent villain in Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel. The American duo is surrounded by a host of wonderful Brit character actors too. The uniforms of the Napoleonic French cavalry officers are grand - the whole movie is a fabulous feast of entertainment.