Blu-ray reissue: The Duellists ***1/2

By Dennis Hartley

(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on July 6, 2013)

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The Duellists – Shout! Factory Blu-ray

If you can get past Harvey Keitel’s anachronistic Brooklyn wise guy stance and Keith Carradine’s oddly mannered take on a 19th-century “popinjay”, there’s a lot here in director Ridley Scott’s sumptuously photographed 1977 debut (adapted from a Joseph Conrad story) for cineastes to revel in. Keitel and Carradine play a pair of officers in Napoleon’s army who engage in a series of duels spanning three decades (some people just don’t know when to “let it go”).

Happily, the existential futility of this purloined stalemate becomes moot, as it is cloaked in one of the most visually stunning period pieces you’ll ever feast your eyes upon this side of Barry Lyndon (all the more impressive when you consider the $900,000 budget, which is coffee and a doughnut compared to the $130,000,000 spent on his dreary-looking Prometheus). Shout! Factory’s Blu-ray skimps on extras, but this long-overdue HD transfer is most welcome.

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