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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Duellists [Blu-ray]


(Ridley Scott, 1977)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Paramount

Video: Shout! Factory



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:40:31.608

Disc Size: 44,127,889,198 bytes

Feature Size: 30,351,685,632 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.56 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: January 27th, 2013



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 2986 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2986 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1689 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1689 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentaries: DTS-HD Master Audio English 1764 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1764 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1564 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1564 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)



English, none



• Commentary with director Ridley Scott

Commentary and Isolated Score with Composer Howard Blake

• Duelling Directors: Ridely Scott and Kevin Reynolds (29:09)

• Interview with Keith Carradine (24:59)





Description: Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel star in Ridley Scott’s first motion picture, The Duellists. Two officers in Napoleon’s army violently confront each other in a series of duels. The duels begin as a reaction to a minor incident and escalate into a consuming passion that rules the lives of both men for a period of 30 years. Based on Joseph Conrad’s story, The Duellists explores the themes of obsession, honor and violence. Awarded Best Debut Film at the 1977 Cannes Film Festival, this visually stunning film weaves a compelling story through to an unexpected conclusion.



The Film:

"The Duellists," the first major film to open here this year, may well remain one of the most dazzling visual experiences throughout all of 1978. The movie, set during the Napoleonic Wars, uses its beauty much in the way that other movies use soundtrack music, to set mood, to complement scenes and even to contradict them. Sometimes it's almost too much, yet the camerawork, which is by Frank Tidy, provides the Baroque style by which the movie operates on our senses, making the eccentric drama at first compelling and ultimately breathtaking.

"The Duellists," which opened yesterday at the Fine Arts Theater, is an adaptation of a Joseph Conrad story, "The Duel," which I haven't read. It's the first feature film by Ridley Scott, a young English director whose previous experience appears to have been entirely in the making of television commercials (though this doesn't show) and it was written by Gerald Vaughan-Hughes, whose work is also unfamiliar to me. However they collaborated, the result is a film that satisfies not because it sweeps us off our feet, knocks us into the aisles, provides us with visions of infinity or definitions of God, but because it is precise, intelligent, civilized, and because it never for a moment mistakes its narrative purpose.

Excerpt from Vincent Canby at the NY Times located HERE

The Duellists is based on a story by Joseph Conrad, variously titled The Duel and The Point of Honour. Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel play officers in Napoleon's army -- D'Hubert and Feraud, respectively -- who spend their off-hours challenging each other to bloody duels. This goes on for nearly 16 years, with neither man showing any inclination of calling a truce. The final clash finds the gentlemanly D'Hubert getting the upper hand of the obsessed Feraud -- but that's not quite the end of the story. The Duellists was the debut feature for director Ridley Scott; it won the Cannes Film Festival prize for Best First Film.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The Duellists arrives on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory. It is dual-layered and exports many of the strong attributes of the new format but I did find some of the background blotchy in sequences and some of the blacks looked like it had escalated to the level of moiring. The better lit scenes are quite impressive in terms of detail.  The image is surprisingly flat and may have had some manipulation but it is not at proportions that most viewers would find offensive. I couldn't find evidence of edge enhancement but don't discount DNR although nothing is overly waxy. Skin tones seem true and grain is abundant, if uneven. Daylight scenes are more impressive but the darker sequences don't exhibit undue noise. This Blu-ray in-motion looks pretty good. The 1.85:1 aspect ratio has been bastardized, inconsequentially, (probably opened-up) to 1.78.



















Audio :

Audio gives the option of two lossless tracks - a DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 2986 kbps with thunderous clashing swords punching depth in the rear speakers. There is also a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel stereo track at 1689 kbps. Howard Blake's score sounds stupendous and is also available to listen via an isolated score (with commentary by the composer). There are optional English subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.


Extras :

Extras consist of an audio commentary with director Ridley Scott that was found on the Paramount 2002 DVD - as was the commentary and Isolated Score with Composer Howard Blake. Duelling Directors is a 30-minute featurette where Kevin Reynolds interviews Scott as scenes from The Duellists play in the background. There is also a new 25-minute interview with Keith Carradine talking about his role of Arman d'Hubert.



The Duellists is a very intriguing period piece. It is quite an accomplished film with superb performances. The detailed Art Direction and costumes add significantly to the viewing experience. There are some beautiful sequences here, folks. This is definitely superior to past DVD editions - despite any imperfections. Most will be very pleased with the a/v and solid supplements.  

Gary Tooze

January 8th, 2013


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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