( Fig. 1 – movie poster)
“Duel” (1971) is in essence suspense on four wheels. The dramatic car chase scenes, and the faceless evil, driving a rusty old truck can leave the viewers breathless and almost in panic. (fig. 2) Ian Freer talks about the film: “Built on a skilful ebb and flow axis of surprise and suspense, it has few rivals when it comes to sustaining an action agenda throughout the full running time.” (Freer, 2015)
(Fig. 2 – movie still)
What makes the film so intriguing is the constant acceleration from the start to the very end. This theme is repeated multiple times on multiple layers. From the car and the truck, to the racing and panicked mind of a man whose life is threatened. This pressure leaves no breathing room whatsoever and leaves the viewers gasping for air. John Kenneth talks about this: “The film is precisely what the title promises: a "clash" between two dedicated combatants (a man driving a car and an unseen person manning the evil truck), with Spielberg's splendid sense of visual metaphor carrying the day.” (Kenneth, 2010)
“Duel” doesn’t have extensive dialogues and maybe that is the reason why every time speech is heard, it probably means something and it isn’t just a mundane chat. For instance the dialogue between David (Dennis Weaver) and his wife, is concerned with his masculinity and how he should have defended his spouse the night before. Maybe this dialogue is the driving force behind “Duel” the desire of the husband to prove himself as a man.
“Duel” was originally made for television but it was quickly recognised that the movie deserves to be on the big screen.
In conclusion, it can be said that the film ends a bit too quickly with the end credits suggesting that it’s finished, without them no one in the movie theatre would move, expecting the malicious truck driver to rise from the dead and continue the chase. (fig. 3) Janet Maslin talks about the film: “the film loses its momentum and becomes somewhat clumsy. The ending is abrupt, too, but the main impression left by ''Duel'' is one of talent and energy. Mr Spielberg seemed, with this film, to be headed for bigger and better things. Sure enough, he was.” (Maslin, 2015)
(fig. 3 – movie still)
Fig. 1 - Impawards.com, (2015). Duel: Extra Large Movie Poster Image - Internet Movie Poster Awards Gallery. [online] Available at: http://www.impawards.com/1971/duel_xlg.html [Accessed 13 Feb. 2015].
Fig. 2 - 2.bp.blogspot.com, (2015). [online] Available at: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_mpBGa4P5jUo/TQPnTwTLsGI/AAAAAAAAGAE/S1k9qEHVxL4/s1600/duel2.jpg [Accessed 13 Feb. 2015].
Fig. 3 – Ontheroadtospectacle.files.wordpress.com, (2015). [online] Available at: https://ontheroadtospectacle.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/duel-1971-4.jpg [Accessed 13 Feb. 2015].
Freer, I. (2015). Empireonline Reviews | Reviews | Empire. [online] empireonline.com. Available at: http://www.empireonline.com/reviews/reviewcomplete.asp?FID=132737 [Accessed 13 Feb. 2015].
Kenneth, J. (2010). John Kenneth Muir's Reflections on Cult Movies and Classic TV: CULT TV-MOVIE REVIEW: Duel (1971). [online] Reflectionsonfilmandtelevision.blogspot.co.uk. Available at: http://reflectionsonfilmandtelevision.blogspot.co.uk/2010/12/cult-tv-movie-review-duel-1971.html [Accessed 13 Feb. 2015].
Maslin, J. (2015). Movie Review - Duel - 'SPIELBERG'S 'DUEL,' FOUR-WHEEL COMBAT - NYTimes.com. [online] Nytimes.com. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9804EFD81138F936A25757C0A965948260 [Accessed 13 Feb. 2015].