For Slavoj Žižek, Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights (1931) is “perhaps the purest case of a film which, so to speak, stakes everything on its final scene.” 1

This is not to be understood in the sense that this final scene provides a moment of definitive narrative resolution. Rather, this final scene transcends the impetus of the preceding narrative itself; it suddenly presents an eruption that cannot be adequately explained or contained by the network of desires that have constructed and propelled the narrative to this point.

The final shot – an emotionally blistering close-up of Chaplin’s ‘Little Tramp’ – gives us an unfiltered gaze at that object which has propelled audience desire, but which does so only when viewed askance or “awry” 2. For Žižek, without this safety of a distanced view, this directly encountered object can only collapse into a radical eruption of meaninglessness. The final shot transcends the motions and meaning(s) that have led to it and revels in the indefinable status of pure object, stripped of the magical allure of consistency and displaying nothing but its own empty and promiseless image.

City Lights ends at the very moment of this absolute undecidability when, confronted with the other’s proximity as an object, we are forced to answer the question “Is he worthy of our love?” or, to use the Lacanian formulation, “Is there in him something more than himself, objet petit a, a hidden treasure?” … this moment marks the intrusion of a radical openness in which every ideal support of our existence is suspended … his being is no longer determined by a place in the symbolic network, it materializes the pure Nothingness of the hole, the void in the Other. 3

With “absolute undecidability”, we are placed on the threshold between seeing meaning and seeing meaninglessness. In this sense, Chaplin forces us to see too much; the ongoing desire for narrative completion or symbolic coherence is disrupted and replaced with a vision of nothingness.

zizek duellists

Žižek finds “absolute undecidability” and “pure Nothingness” in the final shot of Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights (1931)

Though an altogether different film in terms of content, genre, and style, Ridley Scott’s 1977 feature film debut The Duellists (for which Scott received the 1977 Cannes Film Festival prize for best new director) displays a similar impulse to strip away the support offered by its own narrative machinations in order to stake it all on some impossible view of a disruptive “intrusion of radical openness.” What is worth charting in Scott’s film is its negotiation with this recurring intrusion of “Nothingness” and its formal integration of this into film style. This negotiation between meaning and “Nothingness” is interesting in the film’s status as an adaptation, particularly in relation to how this same recurring intrusion appears in the source text by Joseph Conrad, “The Duel” (1908).

The core of the text (whether Conrad or Scott’s version) remains simple, revolving around an unyielding demand: one man (D’Hubert) is pursued by another (Feraud) to engage in a duel; though circumstances contrive to allow the target to escape, his pursuer nevertheless reappears to restate the challenge having somehow found a way around these evasive manoeuvres.

While Žižek’s (brief) analysis of The Duellists essentially treats the narratives as interchangeable (mistakenly ascribing this particular “The Duel” to Heinrich Kleist rather than Joseph Conrad) and provides a class-based interpretation 4, there are fundamental differences in how Conrad and Scott understand the nature of these duels and how they are formally represented in their respective works.

Whereas Conrad formulates these impulses through a framework of personal and internal negotiation, Scott’s duels are fuelled instead by pure demand – a non-negotiable demand that bypasses the attraction-and-withdrawal motions of Lacanian desire, and instead manifests in the impossible realm of Lacanian Drive: a momentum that neither negotiates nor deviates. As well as this shift in focus, Scott also inscribes this essence of Drive into the formal structure of the film itself, and thus the emergence of this Drive lies not only in its application to character (as in the now-common narratives of zombie-like “Drive” figures), but balances delicately in the construction of the film, finally being played out in Scott’s final interplay of concluding wide-shot and close-up.

The final shot – a close-up of Feraud (played by Harvey Keitel) – seems to lay claim the same impossible vision. However, this eruption of the “radical openness” in Scott’s final close-up is repositioned by a preceding wide-shot that, in a sense, serves – for the first time in the film – to inscribe “desire” onto the blank, meaningless gaze.

A Certain Blind Look

Visually, Scott’s The Duellists appears to exhibit the same “radical openness” close-up denouement as Chaplin, through which the narrative and “meaning” of the film disappear into the empty, mask-like stare of the protagonist/antagonist – here, Feraud. Indeed, The Duellists works on precisely the same comic principle as Chaplin’s City Lights. Žižek (drawing on analysis by Michael Chion) defines Chaplin’s function in the film as one of “interposition” 5, appearing as a recurring ‘stain’ in the various scenarios. Similarly, the fundamental feature of Feraud – an officer pursuing another through a series of never-ending duels – is similarly one of mindlessly persistent imposition. (Pauline Kael describes this as his ‘implacability’. 6) Certainly, these fatal drives towards the meaningless duels are at their heart morbidly comic in their mindless persistence, as though their intended target, D’Hubert (Keith Carradine), can have no brief moment of symbolic life that is not instantly met by Feraud’s death-stare and pointless demand of honour (which one character in Scott’s film fittingly describes as “indescribable, unchallengeable”).

Each minor victory of D’Hubert in the symbolic, “meaning”-based realm (family, marriage, promotion, etc.) is instantly met by the audience with an anxious reaction: “oh yes – but what about…?”. Feraud’s comic presence lies not in any hidden “meaning” (say, a naturalistic vision of the bestial nature that hides beneath civilised demeanour) but simply in his impossible mirroring of D’Hubert’s trajectory: his instantaneous arrival at each new career step. The comic effect does not come from questioning how Feraud could possibly advance in the ranks in the same measure as D’Hubert; rather, his comic presence lies in the fact that he is already there each time D’Hubert arrives in idiotic symbolic ignorance, simply waiting to be discovered as the impenetrable blot on D’Hubert’s reality. As formulated by Lacan: “There is a point where meaning emerges, and is created. But even at this very point, man is very easily capable of feeling that the meaning is at the same time annihilated. What’s a joke? – if not the calculated irruption of non-sense into a discourse which makes sense.” 7

Allan Simmons’ comparison of The Rover (Terence Young, 1967) and The Duellists presents both films as differing examples of how authorial fidelity can be read and maintained by a cinematic adaptation, noting that “David Robinson [in The Times, 3 Feb 1978, p. 11] has acknowledged that Gerald Vaughan-Hughes’s screenplay for The Duellists ‘was intended as a very direct transposition’ of the original, and Roderick Davis [in “Conrad Cinematized: The Duellists“, Literature/Film Quarterly 8:2, 1980, pp. 125-132] has described the film as ‘remarkably faithful’ to Conrad.”8 But while generally seen as a “faithful” adaptation of Conrad 9, Scott’s film pulls away from Conrad in precisely these blind details of incursion whereby the mechanical functionality of the tale (Conrad’s clear, external, insightful narration) is suspended and instead the events are re-staged as a Lacanian blind spot on the picture. 10

Conrad’s story operates with a kind of detached objectivity, pursuing neither character overtly or in sympathetic “depth”, but rather wryly observing with pithy mental insights the feeble attempts of both to characterise adequately the strange scenario of the impellent adversarial connection they have formed about them. The duels themselves operate as a kind of confounding spot for both characters, to which they are both strangely drawn with the impenetrable perception that they are “necessary”; their lives beyond this, glimpsed but briefly, highlight their ongoing connection to these ongoing moments of indefinable attraction and repulsion. Conrad’s story takes on a kind of objective cynicism, observing with an almost disinterested amusement the feeble motions that have been built up into this “story of duelling, which became a legend in the army,” 11 and therefore the blind insistence that characterises Feraud as a recurring ‘stain’ in Scott’s film is rendered as merely a persistent, but fundamentally feeble and confused set of subjective desiring motions. 12

Conrad’s story is something of an ugly vision precisely because the recurring ‘stain’ that is Feraud in the film is rendered visible in all its base desiring negotiations and compromises. Unlike the example of mirrored promotions in Scott, where Feraud’s appearance is unsettlingly comic in the seeming impossibility of this coarse man’s career advancements mirroring the more dignified D’Hubert’s, in Conrad this idea of strained pursuit is brought to the fore, with Feraud demonstrating violent anger as D’Hubert seems to slip beyond his reach (and thus re-instigating his desire for pursuit) and, once overcoming this gap, lamenting the possibility that D’Hubert might outreach his grasp once again:

Before the end of the truce Lieut. D’Hubert got his troop. The promotion was well earned, but somehow no one seemed to expect the event. When Lieut. Feraud heard of it at a gathering of officers, he muttered through his teeth, “Is that so?” At once he unhooked his sabre from a peg near the door, buckled it on carefully, and left the company without another word. He walked home with measured steps, struck a light with his flint and steel, and lit his tallow candle. Then snatching an unlucky glass tumbler off the mantelpiece he dashed it violently on the floor.

Now that D’Hubert was an officer of superior rank there could be no question of a duel. Neither of them could send or receive a challenge without rendering himself amenable to a court-martial. It was not to be thought of. Lieut. Feraud, who for many days now had experienced no real desire to meet Lieut. D’Hubert arms in hand, chafed again at the systematic injustice of fate. “Does he think he will escape me in that way?” he thought, indignantly.

…now an urgent desire to get on sprang up in his breast. This fighter by vocation resolved in his mind to seize showy occasions and to court the favourable opinions of his chiefs like a mere worldling… He did not get his step till a week after Austerlitz … Directly the pressure of professional occupation had been eased Captain Feraud took measures to arrange a meeting without loss of time. “I know my bird,” he observed, grimly. “If I don’t look sharp he will take care to get himself promoted over the heads of a dozen better men than himself. He’s got the knack for that sort of thing.” 13

So while Conrad endows Feraud with cognitive motions and a basic capacity for reason (and therefore, by necessity, self-negotiation), Scott’s characterisation replaces the possibility of Feraud’s “it was not to be thought of” with a fundamental denial of any cognitive motions at all, insisting instead that “the enemies of reason have a certain blind look.” If Feraud ever asks “why?” in Scott’s film, if he ever questions the unfair anticipatory promises of fate as in the passage above, we are given no recourse to find out. Of course he does not: like some brutish Kierkegaardian, he simply demands with unsupported authority until reason itself gives way around him. 14

Abandoning Conrad’s representation of Feraud’s capacity for compromise and negotiation, Vaughan-Hughes’ screenplay instead characterises Feraud simply by the fact of his forward impetus, without reference to his cognitive negotiations for these motions. Visually, this is supported by Simmons’ observation that “most of the characters’ movements are toward or away from the camera rather than sideways or across it.” 15 In fact, the film functions fundamentally as a prolonged extension of Conrad’s first battle scene where:

the onslaughts of Lieut. Feraud were so fierce that … Lieut. D’Hubert, his faculties concentrated upon defence, needed all his skill and science of the sword to stop the rushes of his adversary. Twice already he had to break ground … Lieut. D’Hubert in the midst of his worldly preoccupations perceived it at last … it was clear enough that by this time he meant to kill – nothing less. He meant it with the intensity of will utterly beyond the inferior faculties of a tiger. 16

D’Hubert’s “victories” as such remain mere symbolic displacements of this recurrent spot, sidestepping the attacks with the deflecting excuses of his “worldly preoccupations” (military law, rationality, etc.), repeatedly disavowing the anti-symbolic demand of the action that refuses negotiation: that Lacanian death-drive which refuses to disavow its own impetus and to displace demand for meaningful desire. Simmons writes that “where the Conradian narrative does linger over the action, the effect is less the thrust and parry of the contest itself than of D’Hubert’s thought process as he interprets the event” (p. 125). By contrast, we can suggest that, in lingering over the action, Scott’s film becomes less the thrust and parry of cognitive interpretation, and more the desperate visceral reaction to anti-interpretative imposition. 17

Conrad opens his story with a larger Napoleonic framework and only slowly draws in on his two characters to situate them within his basic thematic construction. Simmons notes the difference of the opening in Scott’s adaptation, where the immediacy of the action is seen against Scott’s lush, “over-composed” backgrounds. 18 Responses to these “over-composed”, photographic landscapes are summarised by Simmons:

It is not hard to see why Scott has been accused of over-composed pictures. Nigel Andrews, for example, commented upon the film’s “heady dose of visual prettiness” whereby “Every landscape has the shimmering soft-focus beauty of a prize-winning photograph,” while Tom Hutchinson described such composition as “the film equivalent of self-aware ‘fine writing’ and at odds with Conrad’s novella, which is at once more subtle and more sweaty than that.” 19

Such cinematic composure of course manifests itself as being completely at odds with the twisted, out-of-form, mask of Feraud who steps into such a pastoral, equable beauty as a kind of destructive spot, piercing the ideological utopia with his distorted, impossible demand. It is from the lush landscape that Feraud simply emerges as a blank disruption, without the methods of psychological interrogation Conrad provides. Simmons’ reading of the duel itself is thus more intriguing in relation to this photographic perfection:

The emphases of the duel itself are conveyed through a montage of close-ups, with short, handheld reaction sequences conveying Feraud’s evident superiority: the focus remains static on Feraud, to suggest his control, but jumps about wildly when his opponent is in shot, mimetically in pursuit of its subject (who at one point runs out of shot altogether). 20

Here the described shot structure mirrors the basic function of Feraud and the adversarial space that surrounds him; Feraud’s “control”, the unyielding monomania of his pursuit, naturally draws the unrelenting, fixed focus camera, while, like the blot of the Real, (for example, the Lacanian appropriation of the anamorphic skull in Holbein’s Ambassadors), to focus on it as an observer is precisely to lose focus on the surrounding, meaningful narrative framework (so instead of directed action we simply have a flurry of activity). To “view” the imposing point is to relegate the subjective “properly composed” surrounding picture into a distorted, twisted and meaningless vortex. 21

This remains the core trend of all the duels except the last; Feraud can never simply renounce, but is only forced aside through some bland physical necessity, which is unconvincing as a victory precisely because it has failed to satisfy the unknown demand of pure presence, merely pushing it away in deferral. In visual terms, it is only the wild adversarial cutting and camerawork that finds a temporary escape from this rigid fixed point. Feraud’s pre-D’Hubert duels are only mentioned in Conrad and add a gentle leading approach to the narrative, which is slowly revealed through D’Hubert’s mission. Scott, on the other hand, allows Feraud to emerge immediately without any pretext at context, simply as the incursive fixed spot that throws the surrounding network into a symbolic flurry of activity. Simmons notes that after this initial victory Feraud “throws up his hands in a gesture of exasperation, perhaps at the unevenness of the contest, and strides away,” 22 but the gesture is nothing so concrete – merely the immediate visual sign that whatever demand existed has not been reached and simply awaits blind repetition.

So, while in Conrad’s story both officers come across as ugly reminders of the feeble and mundane subjective negotiations that lie behind the story of the duel of legend, each “comic” interruption of Feraud in Scott’s film shines through as an indefinable moment of abject birth from the midst of D’Hubert’s bland adherence to social reshuffling and sense of resolution. Naturally in stripping Feraud of a presence in the negotiative realm of the symbolic, Scott’s film likewise compensates by endowing D’Hubert with a personal life much more identifiable and sympathetic than in Conrad. As writer Vaughan-Hughes states, “it was necessary, I think, to establish D’Hubert as the hero of the picture, to involve the audience with him intimately, and to show him with a private life of any kind. In the early part of the story he is simply soldier and duellist, in Conrad’s version he doesn’t have a private life, particularly. … This life-centred relationship is destroyed by the whole death-centred business of the duelling.” 23 As such, the film removes immediate parallels between the two officers, and instead posits Feraud as an unquestionable remainder outside of, but continually – with its near-comic effect – imposing on, D’Hubert’s own feeble, “rational” life.

The Anti-Contextual Close-Up and the (Re-)Establishing Shot.

The final image of Scott’s film then seems to occupy a status similar to Chaplin’s City Lights precisely because at the moment of this all-encompassing close-up, we are left with the image of the pure, empty demand: the final gaze upon Keitel’s blank stare that has thrown the narrative logic of the story into a constant flurry of retreat. It is easy to imagine the film following Chaplin’s method: the film suddenly ceases to make any identifiable demand of us and any attempt at negotiation with the mask is rendered in all its radiant impossibility. Once again, the film has no choice but to end in order to preserve the radical emptiness of the moment. The seemingly unavoidable narrative question of “what now?” is rendered instead as “what could be possible now?” if this extraordinary blankness is to remain. In other words, to preserve the moment the film has to remove its contextual frame altogether. (This mask of empty presence could not of course have been possible had Scott included Conrad’s moments of Feraud’s feeble frustrations, desires and reluctances.)

zizek duellists

Scott’s penultimate shot: a “re-establishing” shot for Feraud (Harvey Keitel)

Scott’s film, however, counteracts this final, indefinable presence in its penultimate shot: a calm, picaresque “establishing shot” (though not in its usual sense) from behind Feraud, who stands overlooking the lush countryside, a quasi-Napoleonic figure. The final duel that brings the narrative to a close allows D’Hubert to reaffirm his sense of self-preserving rationality (over the “indescribable, unchallengeable” drive of “honour”); his act of demanding Feraud’s renunciation rather than killing him drags the endless propulsion of the all-consuming Lacanian Drive into the negotiative world of desire (and rational narrative). As such, The Duellists‘ final moments withdraw from the endless and mindless assault of Feraud that it has so artfully summoned; in a sense, the narrative is unable to contain its primary compulsive fantasy and, as such, halts its trajectory before displaying its own image of “absolute undecidability.” This penultimate shot acts as a “re-establishing” shot, definitively rewriting how we are able to understand final Feraud’s blank mask-like stare.

D’Hubert’s victory in robbing Feraud of his driving presence lies of course not in destroying his life but in claiming it, causing Feraud to define his identity outwardly, rather than possessing it himself. (The moments of Feraud glancing behind him and then upwards as he walks towards the hilltop are small but key moments of visual character transition.) We can imagine the effect were the film to continue post-renunciation, if Feraud turned and returned to challenge D’Hubert again. Suddenly this powerful, vibrantly comic (in its persistent impossibility) incursion which demanded notice in every scenario would appear a sadly pathetic, if not repulsive, image of a failed man trying to reclaim this renounced drive of the past.

Conrad’s Feraud might in fact be (retroactively) seen as the postmodern extension of Scott’s Feraud, re-enacting a former “authentic” passion as an act of displacement: the feeble repetition of a lost self-supporting drive by a desiring subject. Stripped to a “living wreckage,” Feraud’s (Conradian) passion is not a monomaniacal drive, but derives only as a forced deviation from “the anguish of an immense, indescribable, inconceivable boredom”:

The other living wreckage of Napoleonic tempest clustered round General Feraud with infinite respect. He, himself, imagined his soul to be crushed by grief. He suffered from quickly succeeding impulses to weep, to howl, to bite his fists till blood came, to spend days on his bed with his head thrust under the pillow; but these arose from sheer ennui, from the anguish of an immense, indescribable, inconceivable boredom. His mental inability to grasp the hopeless nature of his case as a whole saved him from suicide. He never even thought of it once. He thought of nothing. But his appetite abandoned him, and the difficulty he experienced to express the overwhelming nature of his feelings (the most furious swearing could do no justice to it) induced gradually a habit of silence – a sort of death to a southern temperament. 24

Slipping into the Symbolic.

In Žižek’s reading, Chaplin’s City Lights ends precisely as the abject appears for us, incompatible with the symbolic network that seeks to contain its eruption of “Nothingness.”

The Duellists, however, ends with this abject incursion on the cusp of being reclaimed by the symbolic; forced to renounce, there is no choice but to enter the symbolic. It ends precisely when Feraud seems about to emerge as a subject, lose his insatiable presence as imposition, and recognise his reliance on some externally-defined, symbolically-defining context of self. In this penultimate “re-establishing” shot, we see the abyss of the symbolic network he stands ready to enter replacing the abyss of his self-supporting monomania.

The final all-encompassing, anti-contextual close-up is thus, in a sense, reconfigured by the penultimate wide-shot that sees Keitel left a largely impotent presence in the frame. The figure is incorporated into the environment and yet without any determinate presence: Keitel enters the frame centrally but, when he stops, the camera that follows him now continues moving beyond this once-rigid point, relegating him to the side of the frame. Those “over-composed” landscapes disrupted by Feraud are now themselves the disruption. In this final image, we are forced to ask what it is that he sees – “what next?” – rather than the more disconcerting notion of “which way is this demand directed?”. He is at a remove from something: namely, that former unyielding image of himself.

Unlike Chaplin who looks at us, we are thrown in Scott’s penultimate shot into Feraud’s gaze as a desiring, castrated subject. While Chaplin enacts the glorious affront and impossibility of the abject, Feraud’s gaze into the abyss of the surrounding landscape makes manifest the blatant impossibility of the subject reclaiming the “lost” link to self-supporting identity. Because of this penultimate shot, what is “in him,” “more than himself” 25, that which makes him a sublime, vibrant incursion, is no longer in this final close up; we now see only that it has been snuffed out. It is fitting that, in granting Feraud his life, D’Hubert simultaneously declares Feraud “dead” and demands Feraud “conduct [himself] as a dead man.”

This final image then holds its power as the absolute totality/emptiness that precedes a symbolic integration and the birth of the desiring subject. It is in Scott’s combination of penultimate (re-) establishing shot and final close-up that the rigid, self-sustaining ‘stain’ of Scott’s Feraud disappears and the Feraud of Conrad – defined by cognitive negotiations, defined by desire – emerges.

This article was peer reviewed.


  1. Slavoj Žižek, Enjoy Your Symptom! (New York & London: Routledge, 2001), p. 3.
  2. Slavoj Žižek, Looking Awry: An Introduction to Jacques Lacan through Popular Culture (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1992).
  3. Žižek. Enjoy, p. 8.
  4. Slavoj Žižek, The Plague of Fantasies (London & New York: Verso, 1997), p. 23; this error was corrected in the 2008 edition
  5. Žižek, Enjoy, p. 4.
  6. Quoted in Marshall Fine, Harvey Keitel: The Art of Darkness (New York: Fromm International, 1998), p. 104.
  7. Jacques Lacan, “The concept of analysis”, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan: Book I, Freud’s Papers on Technique 1953-1954, tr. John Forrester, ed. Jacques-Alain Miller, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), p. 280.
  8. Allan Simmons, “Cinematic fidelities in The Rover and The Duellists” in Conrad on Film, ed. Gene M. Moore (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), pp. 120-134. p. 120.
  9. For a further summary of critical responses to the The Duellists see also Gene D. Phillips, Conrad and Cinema: The Art of Adaptation (New York: Peter Lang Publishing Inc., 1995), p. 122.
  10. Whatever their differences in narrative construction may be, Scott paid homage to Conrad in his following film Alien (1979), naming the spaceship Nostromo.
  11. Joseph Conrad, “The Duel” in The Medallion Edition of the Works of Joseph Conrad, in Twenty Volumes, Vol. Eleven: A Set of Six (London: The Gresham Publishing Co. Ltd., 1925, pp. 165-266), p. 165.
  12. Conrad, who wrote a failed silent screen adaptation of his own ‘Gaspar Ruiz’ entitled Gaspar the Strong Man (1920), noted the difficulty he had in adapting to the pre-vocal imaginary of the silent world, stating to American journalist James Walter Smith that the cinema was “miraculous” but “the trouble with moving-pictures is that they don’t show, except in a superficial way, what the characters are thinking”; Smith, James Walter . ‘Joseph Conrad – Master Mariner and Novelist’, Boston Evening Transcript, Book Section, 12 May 1923; reprinted in Conradiana 2:2 (Winter 1969-70), 1989. In Scott’s film, Feraud inhabits this pre-vocal silence of inconceivable intent which provided difficulty for Conrad. He is, after all, denied thought in Scott’s film. For a study of Conrad’s neglected screenplay, and why it fails in its visual realm where “the narrator is obliged to vanish” (p. 40) see Gene M. Moore, “Conrad’s “film-play” Gaspar the Strong Man” in Moore, Conrad on Film (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997, pp. 31-47), also the source for the above reference to Smith (pp. 43-44 and p. 47, n31).
  13. Conrad, pp. 202-204.
  14. Phillips’ complaint that the film “should have devoted more time to examining the psychology of character … Feraud still comes across for the most part as a one-dimensional character, possessing only one central drive … Scott could have spent more screen time on character development” (p. 123) thus overlooks the overt avoidance of “psychology” in Scott’s version of Feraud.
  15. Simmons, p. 126.
  16. Conrad, pp. 179-180.
  17. Simmons provides a persuasive general analysis of The Duellists; thus this paper draws heavily on his observations while asking that the reader reposition their understanding of how these relate to the logic and construction of Scott’s film. This approach is intended to build on and reframe Simmons’ observations, not to dismiss them.
  18. For further study of Ridley Scott’s visual composition see Christopher Frayling “Ridley Scott” in Philip Dodd with Ian Christie (ed.) Spellbound: Art and Film in Britain (London: British Film Institute, 1996). For The Duellists, filming in France, Scott was supposedly able to bypass union rules and act as his own cinematographer (although Frank Tidy is credited, and was nominated for his cinematography on the film by BAFTA and the British Society of Cinematographers); see Phillips, p. 119.
  19. Simmons, p. 122.
  20. Simmons, p. 122.
  21. Similarly in the following garden duel we are given “reaction shots as Feraud slashes toward a hand-held camera … coupled with rapid changes in the angle of perception” (Simmons, p. 126). Simmons also notes of this scene that “According to the postproduction script at the British Film Institute in London, this scene, lasting less than one minute, involves thirty-seven changes in camera angle, approximately one per second”, p. 134n9).
  22. Simmons, p. 122.
  23. Gerald Vaughan-Hughes archive footage in Charles de Lauzirika’s Duelling Directors: Ridley Scott & Kevin Reynolds, Paramount Home Video, USA, 2002 (The Duellists DVD extra).
  24. Conrad. p. 231.
  25. Žižek. Enjoy, p. 8.

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