A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Excessive pride and pettiness can lead to unnecessary conflict. Characters make light of violence against women.
Positive Role Models
Lieutenants d'Hubert and Feraud show fearlessness and determination in their work as soldiers, but are also foolish and petty in their personal lives. They have a toxic, pointless rivalry that tests their skills as fighters but nothing else. They are occasionally kind to others.
Non-French actors cast in French roles. Multiple nationalities among the cast, though. Main cast is White and male, as is the writer and director. Some supporting roles for women, most of whom are restricted to love interests, while some are judged as being "fat" and "ugly" by men and other women.
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Violence & Scariness
Sword fighting. Character stabbed with sword through front and back. Blood but no gore. Characters advocate violence to settle disputes. Bloody injuries from sword fighting. Violent scuffles. Characters shot and killed, others freeze to death.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Characters are seen shirtless. Kissing. Reference to having sex. Emphasis on the importance of beauty.
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Language used includes "damn" and "bitch." A German character is referred derogatorily as a "sauerkraut."
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Products & Purchases
Senior army officers shown as living luxurious lifestyles while others live in poverty.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink alcohol in moderation. Character smokes tobacco pipe.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Duellists is an excellent period drama -- set during the 19th century, about a pair of rival French soldiers -- with violent scenes. The film is notable for being acclaimed director Ridley Scott's first feature film, with Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel playing feuding Lieutenants d'Hubert and Feraud respectively. Both characters are criticized by others for being proud and self-absorbed, both of which are contributing factors to their quarrel. There is also a class divide between the two soldiers despite them holding equal rank, which is part of the reason the privileged d'Hubert is disliked by Feraud. Violence is central to the story, with sword and gun use resulting in bloody injury and some death. Characters are criticized for being needlessly violent toward one another, but men are violent to women without repercussions. Characters occasionally drink alcohol, while some smoke tobacco from pipes. The movie is set in France and other European nations during the reign of Napoleon. While the characters are French, the cast is Anglo-American and predominantly White and male. Female characters do feature, but mainly as love interests to the male leads. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Notable as the movie debut of Ridley Scott, this 1977 period war drama tells a quietly unnerving story of two men whose obsession with one another needlessly threatens their existence. Cast as members of the 19th-century French cavalry, Keitel and Carradine quickly embody the The Duellists' unassuming d'Hubert and volatile Feraud, both of whom are proud to a fault. We see their mutual dislike simmer across two decades and different countries, before reaching a conclusion that entwines their fates.
Given the stellar trajectory of Scott's directing career (which includes Alien, Blade Runner, and Gladiator, among many others), The Duellists is now mainly referred to as a piece of moviemaking history. Shot on a budget with no special effects, it established Scott's eye for telling the human stories that cut through his big-budget smash hits. But its tale of hubris and frailty still endures, thanks to a talented assembly of cast and crew.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.