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The Duellists 1977 ****

Ridley Scott’s debut film, a period drama set during the Napoleonic wars, was so out of sync with popular concerns that it never reached the audience it deserved. Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel are two unlikely officers, trapped in an internecine series of duels, but the sense of style and detail conjured up by Scott, in service of Joseph Conrad’s novel, pays off, with real locations, swords and pistols creating the same lush world as Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon. Scott’s venture into sci-fi with Alien and Blade Runner made his name, but The Duellists showed his talent and the seriousness of his cinematic intention.

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