31 May 2012

A Duel at Lincoln Center

Ridley Scott's first film, The Duellists, must have jinxed the film maker. I don't think he ever came close to the style and honesty of this little seen film. Every shot is like an 18th Century painting and many were pure luck according to Scott. Light appearing for seconds it took to shoot and then gone.

The lush 18th Century conflicts with a dark story of unintentional slight. An honor sullied and a series of resulting duels based on a true story. Whenever anyone expresses regret to me about not serving, I tell them the Army has a lot of nuts. My Dad warned me about 'em and I ran into plenty. That military honor slipping into lunacy is beautifully described here. Not much has changed.

It's playing at Lincoln Center's, Walter Reade Theater today at 1:00PM. There's a brilliant review in the New Yorker here. If you can't make it, pick up the DVD with Scott's commentary and interview. He'll tell you what happened to the hot chocolate pot and the crate of champagne.


Main Line Sportsman said...

An excellent film! Keitel is fantastic in a role you would not expect for him. The Napoleonic War era costuming is tremendous.
I have never seen this on a big screen...only TV. I wish I could play hookey today and watch.

Dallas said...

had not heard of this movie before - after reading about it, its interesting as to why scott picked a conrad short story when a few other (better) authors have covered this subject. chekhov and maupassant are top of mind.

Anonymous said...

The puffy shirt. You once wore one. I once wore one. Perhaps because of our history explaining history to the masses while wearing one, every now and then the shirt comes back to haunt us. And it's actually kind of heartening.


H. said...


Wallace Stroby said...

Can't help but wonder how it would have been if Scott had gotten the actors he wanted, Oliver Reed and Michael York, and not been forced by the distributor to cast Americans.

tintin said...

Main Line- I have to respectfully disagree regarding Harvey. And I like Harvey but this wasn't his best day. He and Carradine barely pulled this off and only did thanks to the other actors. And what a supporting cast!

Anyone, down to the 18th C beauty, Gay Hamilton, in this cast is remarkable and the obviousness (is that a word?) of the Keitel/Carradine anachronistic presence is hi-lited when the two share a scene with actors far better.

Reminds me of the Nick Nolte/John Travolta scene in A Thin Red Line or Leonardo DiCaprio sharing the screen with Daniel Day Lewis in The Gangs of NY. The talent of Day and Nolte overshadow Travolta and DiCaprio making them look like actors from a college performance of Elecktra.

Dallas- Watch the movie. Then it might make sense.

DB- How can anyone take a person in puffy shirt seriously?

H. Understand.

Wallace- Wish you were here Thursday. Beautiful on the big screen. Saw things I never saw on the tape/dvd. The final scene with lots of overhead shots was especially impressive.

Maybe 20 people in the theater. One guy sat in the 2nd row. He was a genius.

It almost breaks the heart to think of Reed and York in this. But it's balanced by Keitel being replaced with Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now and O. Reed In Gilliam's, Baron Munchausen.

tintin said...

Reed & Uma in Munchausen: