Friday, 20 March 2015

(Older Review) Duel 1971

Fig. 1 Film poster

Duel 1971.

Directed by Steven Spielberg, Duel is focused on man who is driving across the state on a business trip, it is along this road in which he is attacked by a mysterious Truck driver that is bent on killing him with no priors or explanation.  It seems that the plot is a simple one, but doesn't seem to distract the amount of atmosphere that has been created. 

With the truck looming in the background(see fig. 2), a haunted feeling rushes over the driver, the audience on the edge of their seats, seeing if he can get away from the possibility of death or was he just going to be followed the entire way. The better example of this feeling, is in the scene where the culprit is somewhere in the Cafe and the camera goes through, showing the viewers each characters head as he tries to figure out who is trying to kill him. The viewers are drawn into his mind, seeing it as he sees it. It's as though he wants us to help him solve the problem. 
Fig. 2 Looming Truck

In the main skin of the surface, the move is in relation to kill or be killed. A man trying to kill another man which seems like fun, however the movie is some how secretly about masculinity in an average man.  "The subtext of this highway duel is masculinity, as suggested by Mann's phone conversation with his wife when he calls her from the gas station, before the action begins in earnest." (Howard, 2011) Howard is commenting on a conversation at the beginning of the movie in which David, who is apologizing for an argument that he had the night before concerning his wife as he had failed to defend her. This is focusing on his inability to defend his wife and fail to assert his own strength.

When the truck that is trying to kill the man and the smaller car that he is driving can be another example of this idea. The truck is referring to a huge force that is imposing and overshadowing - haunting - the car. Huge amounts of pressure is placed on the man, and to men in society and the pressure is represented around being strong willed and protective. Mann is shown to be reluctant to help out but he attempts to and just manages to get himself lodged in the bumper, facing the humiliating faces of the children who mocked him. However the stronger truck arrives and moves the bus with ease, showing the more powerful side that just insures its own masculinity.
Fortgang states that "Spielberg's first film finds the director ruthlessly exploiting a devastatingly simple premise to extraordinary effect."(Fortgang,2003).

In conclusion,  Duel was Spielberg's first movie and it still shows the immense amount of creativity and passion that he moved into the rest of his work, keeping him as one of Hollywood's greatest directors.


Chris Justice (2005), Duel 1971,, Classic [Acccessed on 20/03/15]

Ed Howard (2011) Duel,, Only the Cinema [Acccessed on 20/03/15]

Fortgang (2003) Duel movie review, Channel 4 [Acccessed on 20/03/15]

Figure 1: Movie Poster [Acccessed on 20/03/15]

Figure 2. Looming Truck. [Acccessed on 20/03/15]


  1. good to see you plugging some gaps, Julia - just a nitpick - you've got a small 's' on the Spielberg in the Fortgang quote...

  2. Ah yeah sorry bout that I'll go in and fix it and yeah I got hold of the films and have been watching them as I can't stand properly as my back is killing me. So I thought I'd get some of the ones I was missing done.

  3. :) Don't forget to italicise your quotes and the film titles!