Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel are soldiers in Napoleon’s army. The film opens the yearNapoleon has become ruler of France. Keitel is a man of irrational and explosive temper. For noreal reason, he develops a hatred for Carradine, and challenges him to a duel. Over and overagain, during the course of the tumultuous years that follow, the two duel, but never manage tocomplete their battle and both always live to fight another day. Though not without darkness,this film, ba…ed on a Joseph Conrad story, is nowhere near as despairing as, say, “Heart ofDarkness.” The plot is a bit on the thin side, but the gorgeous visuals make up for that.
The Duellists sounds much, much better than a film over 25 years old has any right to. Themusic is magnificent, and the environmental sound effects very impressive. The dialogueoccasionally distorts during scenes with shouting, but otherwise, a virtually flawless audiotrack.
The film has a rich and subtle palette of colours, and the transfer does them it full justice.The print is pristine, the contrasts, flesh tones and blacks are all strong, and there is virtually nograin or edge enhancement. Even the layer transition is carefully timed to occur during ablackout. The ratio is 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen.
Not one but two commentaries here. The first, by Ridley Scott, is just as articulate andinformative as we’ve come to expect from him on other DVDs. In fact, the way he plunges rightinto the discussion makes you feel like you’re picking up a long conversation with him, carriedover from the other movies. Composer Howard Blake provides the other commentary, whichis also isolates the score. Blake introduces each sound cue in his instructive talk.
“Duelling Directors” is a half-hour conversation between Kevin Reynolds and Ridley Scottabout the film. Though they cover some of the same ground as the Scott commentary, the focushere is more on the technical side of the film. “Boy & Bike” is Scott’s first film, a 25-minuteshort feature that shows the same strong visual sense as everything else he has ever made.Rounding out the extras are photo and poster galleries, the theatrical trailer, and a storyboardmontage (with optional shot comparison) of several scenes. The menu’s main page, introductionand transitions are animated and scored. The theme, as you might guess, is swords.
A fine film, beautifully packaged, loaded with extras. A first-class release.
Special Features List
- Commentary by Director Ridley Scott
- Commentary and Isolated score by Howard Blake
- “Duelling Directors: Kevin Reynolds and Ridley Scott”
- “Boy and Bicycle” – Ridley Scott’s first short film
- Storyboard & Shot Comparisons
- Poster and Still Gallery