Film Review - Duel


Release date - 1971
Director - Steven Spielberg
Genre - Road movie, Thriller, Mystery

David Mann is taking a business trip through New Mexico, something as simple as this should be uneventful and pretty boring and so it would have been if it wasn't for the creepy truck and its driver harassing him the whole way, letting David over take only to over take David and deny him the chance to do so again, slowing down to an unreasonable speed to purposely anger David. As time goes on the passive aggressive road rage starts to move towards a much more aggressive affair and David finds it harder to contain himself.

Throughout the film the dialogue is very limited, apart from David Mann's inner monologue that only awkwardly expresses Mann's anxiety and conversations which take place in a diner Duel was verging on being a silent film, so much was shown though actions instead of dialogue. 

Fig. 2
David Mann in the road side diner.

Seeing as we never see the truck driver, David man is the main character of this film but arguable the vehicles are the main attraction of Duel, whenever the chase is interrupted by small off road scenes like the truck stop where we get glimpses of the truck driver and one particularly odd sequence at a gas station run by a woman who keeps pet snakes and other creatures the film loses its edge and suspense dies down and becomes somewhat clumsy, but without these scenes the film would be too intense, filled with just suspenseful road rage. 

David Mann in his everyday car vs. the truck, both look like they represent the drivers personalities.

Usually fear of the unknown is what scares people most, this really applies in Duel, there is a great amount of mystery as to the trucker's identity and appearance, leaving both his appearance and motivations completely to the viewers imagination.

Spielberg played on this fact, knowing that fear of the unknown is usually what scares people most he decided the truck driver would not even be heard making the the trucker more eerie and unsettling. "This creates a mythos, right away, that the man behind the wheel is a complete mystery." (Leon, 2014)

It has been said in many reviews of the film that the fact the trucker is a mystery is a main key to the movie being a success "The key to "Duel" is that we never see the truck driver, just like we never saw the shark from "JAWS" in its entirety." (N.A, 2004)
For a film made for television that was shot in less than two weeks on a very small budget and the climax of the film was shot in one take the film is a fantastic exercise in suspense, as agreed in many other reviews "But on its own, Duel delivers a raw experience of mounting suspense" (Black, 2013)

Bibliography - 

Black, Ace (2013) 'Movie Review: Duel (1971)' From: Duel
In:http://www.theaceblackblog.com 02.08.13 (Online)
At: http://www.theaceblackblog.com/2013/08/movie-review-duel-1971.html
(Accessed the 09.04.14)

Leon, Victor (2014) 'Vic's Review - "Duel" (1971)' From: Duel.
In: http://vicsmovieden.com 09.01.14 (Online)
At: http://vicsmovieden.com/2014/01/09/vics-review-duel-1971/
(Accessed on 09.04.14)

N.A (2004)  'You won't believe it's Spielberg' From: Duel
In: http://www.imdb.com 18.02.04 (Online)
At: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0067023/reviews
(Accessed the 09.04.15)

Illustration list - 

Figure One - Affiches on Pinterest | 692 Pins on vintage travel posters (2015) From: Duel
Directed By: Steven Spielburg [Film Poster] United States: Universal Pictures
At: www.pinterest.com

Figure Two - Steven Spielberg Director's Collection Blu-ray Review (1971) From: Duel
Directed By: Steven Spielburg [Film Still] United States: Universal Pictures
At: bluray.highdefdigest.com

Figure Three - Visionneuse de Dennis Weaver (1971) From: Duel
Directed By: Steven Spielburg [Film Still] United States: Universal Pictures
At: toutlecine.challenges.fr 

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