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'Duel 1971' Fear is a Driving Force, and you are it's Passenger. 07/02/2016

Figure 1: Duel 1971 Poster
This film review will focus on the film 'Duel 1971', this film was one of Steven Spielberg's first films and was said to get him his funding for Jaws. The film was made directed by Steven Spielberg, the story was written by Richard Matheson, the music was composed by Billy Goldenburg and the cinematography was done by Jack A. Marta. The films cinematography is some of the best you will ever see in any film ever. The plot in for this film in a nutshell is that a truck driver is trying to kill a man in a car, they drive for a long time, sit down a couple times and the film ends with the truck driving off a cliff. So the story is nothing deep or complex but it has been made in a way which really immerses you into the story, so this story has been mastered and perfected. The film may have been very restricted and re-purposed but this film really stands on its own two legs. "Released as a television movie and produced on a shoestring budget in two weeks, Duel resonates with the sparks of genius that have lit the fire illuminating Spielberg's Hollywood journey" (C Justice.  2005)


Figure 2: The Phone Call
Some of the symbolism in this film is unreal, every shot looks correct and even though you can see right at the start they recycle footage which could classed as amateur this film is not to be underestimated, because finding problems/flaws with this film was very difficult. In this film there is definitely somewhat of a fight going on with masculinity or who is the more masculine. So the film introduces us to a man who is known as David Mann, (Even his name emphasizes this!) is doing what appears to be driving to an interview or somewhere far away. The environment takes you through many hills and valleys that look almost the same, but after a while David is confronted by a large truck going at very slow speeds. Him being impatient overtakes the truck and speeds away, however he keeps getting chased down by this truck and gradually the tension between the two begins to grow.These and a few whimsical conversations from a call-in radio show are really all the character development the movie provides, and they're much weaker than the ingenious visual effects. "Mr. Spielberg wasn't purely a special-effects director in those days, and he isn't one now, but the people in ''Duel'' seem particularly remote. The minor characters, at the various stops Mann makes along the highway, are uniformly freakish. And Mann himself is shown to be a henpecked husband who regains his masculinity only through the contest on the road." (J Maslin. 1983) 

Figure 3: David Mann
The relationship between these two characters for the whole film is almost like something from David and Goliath, David being David and Goliath being the truck driver, just look at what vehicles they drive. David drives a efficient,smart little sports car whilst the truck driver drives this massive, powerful tanker truck. However away from the symbolism of the two characters there is one shot in the film which stands out right at the beginning, a woman a door to some sort of machine and the door perfectly zooms in on David, like something you would see out of the sight of some sort of rifle, like he is some sort of target, which his is. Another detail to talk about is the truck, the build up for the truck is very clever, by the end of the film this truck is no longer a vehicle or a weapon for a psychopathic truck driver but is some sort of monster. The sudden changes in camera angles and vibration make this truck seem almost mad. Then there is the noise, a low grumbling noise like some sort of beast. By the end of the film the hunter becomes the hunted and when this 'Thing' goes flying off the cliff it was like the end of some sort of boss battle, David had won.

Figure 4: The Truck
The sound and music is also key, as stated earlier the truck turns into more of a beast rather than a machine. Having its low grumbling sound really reinforces this, especially when put aside other sounds like the puniness of Davids car compared to the truck, or the sound of the train. Its also the sudden changes in audio as well that makes the music have a lot more kick, one second you cruising in Davids car, then you are being chased by this thing. The scene where the sound sticks out most is near the end of the film where David gets into a full out race of life and death with the truck, as David begins to gain the advantage his car begins to break down. As climbs the hill his car breaks in a specific way, in a gradual incline the breaks more and more the longer it goes on, hisses become screeches, grinding becomes gnawing and David eventually begins to have a meltdown that gets worse the longer this scene goes on.

Figure 5: The Fuel Stop
The pacing for the film is also really good, the film itself doe snot really just slap you in the middle of the action and say "Here's the story, let's go." this film has a very well polished buildup to the final encounter. Even just some more human scenes like the bar stop, the reptile lady and the first encounter at the fueling station really do remind you about that how real this story seems. "Not even Hitchcock could have shot or paced Duel any better. Spielberg understands precisely where to insert his silences and pauses, and when to make them restful or tense. He knows how to pour it on for the exciting chase scenes. And, unlike most of his later films, he knows how and when to end the thing." (J M Anderson.)

Biblography


Anderson, J.M. (s.d.) Duel.
At:
http://www.combustiblecelluloid.com/classic/duel.shtml
(Accessed on 7.2.16)


Justice, C. (2005) Duel (1971).
At:
http://classic-horror.com/reviews/duel_1971
(Accessed on 7.2.16)


Maslin, J. (1983) 'Movie review - duel - ‘SPIELBERG’S ‘DUEL,’ FOUR-WHEEL COMBAT'
12 April 1983 [online]
At:
http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9804EFD81138F936A25757C0A965948260
(Accessed on 7.2.16)

Image Biblography

Figure 1: Duel 1971 Poster
https://lapantallainvisible.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/diablosobreruedas7104.jpg

Figure 2: The Phone Call
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-RIK6qd7wgrQ/TzbMkOITloI/AAAAAAAAD3M/TbIZiUaLmbw/s1600/duel%2Bdryer%2Bframe.JPG

Figure 3: David Mann
http://img2.phimhd365.com/images/2014/10/07/dai-quyet-chien-the-duel-1971_fb.png

Figure 4: The Truck
http://canvas.grolsch.com/sites/default/files/styles/article_single_image_center/public/news/images/duel1.jpg?itok=Bz4O3OH2

Figure 5: The Fuel Stop
http://i.imgur.com/qV8fY.jpg

Comments

  1. Just in case there is any concern why this film review is quite a lot different from my previous reviews is because I wanted to experiment with my layouts. Feedback I have gotten on my other reviews say that those massive walls of text can be a bit intimidating and frustrating to read, there are also smaller chunks of text which personally for me make this review seem very small so that my go back to the original layout going forward. Writing these things I'm fine with now but I would like to get a much more professional look to my posts going forward so any feedback on the layout (Not the writing) going forward would be brilliant. There are some obvious mistakes in some of my earlier reviews like spelling mistakes and spell checks but those will be target I will work towards.

    Thanks :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Tom,

    The layout is definitely better like this, having the images breaking up the heavy paragraphs of text - stick with this format :)
    Remember to italicise all film names,'Jaws' for example. In the in-text reference, you only need the author's surname and the date, not the initial too.
    And one rather nasty typo jumps out....'doe snot' instead of 'does not' ! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Right, so Italic's and those 'Typos'. Got it!

    ReplyDelete

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