|Fig 1: Film Poster for Duel (1971)|
|Fig 2: The Truck Bashes into the Car, Determined to Overtake|
Spielburg's Filmography is great in this film, starting off with a first person point of view from Mann's car as he leaves the hectic roads of the city to the more subdued desert highway. He is able to achieve a standard of filming similar to Hitchcock, by showing the characters reactions then panning to what they see. This is evidential in Mann trying to find out who the killing is, he sits in the cafe diner staring off of frame, the camera goes to the four men at the bar, who may or may not be the driver of the truck who has been bullying Mann constantly throughout the film. Spielburg, being a big fan of Hitchcock that he is, made nods to his filming style in this scene, relying up the suspense that makes the diner scene feel long and full of drama just from a few cleverly placed shots and angles. "As far as psychological thrillers go, Duel is close to Hitchcockian"- (Andrew L. Urban, Urbancinefile)
However the diner scene isn't the only suspenseful part of this film, the western like stand off at the climax of the film were you can see how fed up David is over this continuous onslaught of imposing terror from the camera's constant close ups of his face and the truck in the distance as it approaches. The action in the last few minutes of the film give a wonderful crescendo in the form of a truck and the car bursting into flames and exploding as they roll down the cliff, while the worn out David Mann lets out a cheer and sits on the cliffside in relive as the credits roll. While some might of wanted the ending to be something more, like the driver of the truck finally revealing himself, the ending shows a similar thought process to Hitchcock's film, The Birds, both ending in a heartwarming way that still has that sense of doom for the characters involved, that they are still trapped in a world that is against them.
|Fig 3: David Mann Sitting in the Overly Pink Diner|
David is also shown through the cinematography to be vulnerable and weak, such as the mid shot of him in the bar surrounded by pink furniture, a colour associated with femininity. He is shown to be a victim of the change of society in the 70's where women had more independence then ever before, being able to vote and get jobs that enable them to support their families, the need for a male figure in the household was beginning to waver to the point that it was insignificant. This is obviously one of David's fears due to the fact that his wife could do better then him, and not being able to stand up for his wife when she was being hit on by another man at a party adds to his fear of being useless.
|Fig 4: David spots the Truck as it Turns Around to face him|
Overall "Duel" is a film that you can take away and think about it. With its stunning visuals and great acting from the actor of Mann, Dennis Weaver, Duel is the landmark that set Spielburg to speed down the hollywood highway and proceed to make classic films, like Jaws and E.T. It dwells into the psyche of man in the 60's and to what the unknown is to bring us in the form of a dark, mechanical, oil truck that's only purpose is to chase down the driver for the sole reason of trying to over take it.
William Thomas: http://www.empireonline.com/movies/duel/review/
Janet Maslin: http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9804EFD81138F936A25757C0A965948260
Andrew L. Urban: http://www.urbancinefile.com.au/home/view.asp?a=15666&s=DVD