Duel: Film Review

Film name: Duel
Directed by: Steven Spielberg 
Starring: Dennis Weaver
Year of release: 1971

The premise of the film Duel is that of a man who was simply being hunted down by an unknown man in a large truck. On the surface this does not sound like it would become an amazing film but the director, Steven Spielberg, managed to pull the suspense out of such a situation.
While watching the film what one can gather that it is truly less of a car chase film and more of a film battling with the changing image of male masculinity as the second wave of feminism was gaining traction the world over many men where feeling that this would change the order of things. This one could believe that the directed even inferred to in the very begging of the film with the radio conversation where a man calls to a help line for assistance and says: "The questions says, 'are you the head of the family?' well quite frankly the day I married that woman that unfortunately I've been married to for the last 25 years I lost the position."[1]. Picking that statement apart one can already tell that the man in question is unhappy with the changing order of things and is displeased with the way he thinks he looks to the outside world by failing to meet the times male aesthetic.

Even the vehicles themselves in the films in a way represented the main characters concerns about what it meant to be a man as "nearly every shot of the killer truck emphasizes its hulking mass and inimical force". This was probably a decision by the director not only to show the massive power difference between the two vehicles but to also to show the pressure the main character was feeling to live up to the perceived male ideal.
The main character himself is also a very soft spoken man who as the film had portrayed him had lost the ruggedness of the other men in the film, this is best shown shortly after he crashed into a fence when he entered a nearby diner. Within the diner this is most shown when one of the waiters of the diner makes a joke about his care crash outside calling it a "big accident" being followed by male laughter in the background. This feature of him losing face infront of other men and the fact that his wife was disappointing in his lack of action against an earlier 'rape' incident would lead one to believe that at this point in the film everything that had been an internal battle of the new male order versus the old had stepped out into the outside world and the character now had to make a choice on what to do.


  1. [1] : Quote from film the film 'Duel'
  2. Web Article: 'The 1960s- 1970s American Feminist Movement' - https://tavaana.org/en/content/1960s-70s-american-feminist-movement-breakingdown-barriers-women 
  3. Damon Smith (2012) 'Duel' found at -  http://reverseshot.org/archive/entry/630/duel
  4. Ed Howard (2011) 'Duel' found at - http://seul-le-cinema.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/duel.html

Image List:

Figure 1: Poster for the film 'Duel' found on - http://scvhistory.com/gif/duel1sheet.jpg
Figure 2: Screencap 'Duel' found at - http://www.tflcar.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Duel-film-Truck.jpg


  1. Hi Tumo,

    Interesting discussion around the changing roles of men and women in the 70s...well done there.
    You seem to have forgotten how to reference though! Have another look back at the referencing guide...don't forget that you need at least 3 quotes from published sources to back up your discussion, and these need to be referenced within the text and in the bibliography, using the Harvard method - see here

    Don't forget that the quotes need to be italicised, along with any film names.
    Keep them coming!

    1. ok will update with harvard method


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