Sunday, 1 May 2016

Cutting Edge | Film Review | Duel

The concept of there being a crisis in masculinity in the 1970s, made it's way into the public eye from articles, radio shows, tv shows and film. One particular film that stood out as a representation of a man struggling to come to terms with his masculinity was Steven Spielberg's Duel. Duel is an intense and enthralling action film, that has a simplistic plot line which is easy to follow and allows for its audience to grasp at the true undertones of how David Mann, played by Dennis Weaver (who is the main character) feels belittled and is struggling to come to terms with the fact that he is "A henpecked husband who regains his masculinity only through the contest on the road" -Janet Maslin . The plot of the film simply consists of a "Godzilla vs Bambi" - William Thomas like chase going on between David Mann and a truck driver. Although in many places throughout this film, we see the truck driver being represented as 'the bigger man' and is the one who is poking fun at David for being less of a man.

Right from the start of the film, we are able to see that David is not much of a man as first and foremost, his name has man in it... but most importantly, we hear him in a conversation with his wife on the phone at the gas station, where they are having a heated conversation about one of David's colleagues or associates from work, who had been at a party and had been trying to claim a hold on David's wife. "He practically raped me!"  David's wife tells him down the phone in front of the children who are still playing in the living room unaware of the conversation happening. This could be argued that this re-enforces the fact that David clearly didn't exert his strength or prove his dominance, to protect his wife from this. This could show that even before the action of Duel has begun, it is assured that his way of life is clearly affecting his masculinity. This is one of few scenes at the introductory stage of the film, that sets the tone for the remainder of the film. A radio program can be heard in one of the scenes, that features a conversation with another man. He is heard truthfully speaking out about his worries that stem from not being 'head of the house'  and how his wife seems to run things around the house instead of him. This appears to suggest to the viewers that its not just David who is going through this crisis in masculinity. To add insult to injury, at the gas station someone shouts "you're the boss!" to which David swiftly replies with "not in my home!" This shows us that even David is definitely feeling like his manhood is at risk and he feels it isn't 100% secure, this is most likely because he is clearly not the head of his household either. There is also a few metaphors thrown into the mix to further enforce the fact that David's masculinity is under pressure and under threat.

The truck; the larger, stronger machine was portrayed in this way to show that the driver is 'a bigger man'. This could be looked upon as a phallic reference between the two men. This is obviously hinting at the fact that the size of a mans phallus is used in culture as a measure of a man's masculinity and is a symbol of power, therefore translating well on screen as David vs Goliath like battle goes on between a small Plymouth Valiant and a towering rusty truck that bellows smoke.
Another metaphor in Duel, would be the scene in which David stumbles across a stranded school bus filled with children on his journey. The driver of the school bus, hails for Davids help and requests that David uses his car to push the bus back into motion again. David attempts to use the minute force of his car to send the bus back on its journey but instead ends up

getting jammed underneath the buses bumper, to which the children in the back of the bus start to point and laugh at him. The trucker, who has been following him, takes control and makes the job look easy and with no difficulty, he bumps the bus into motion again. The humiliation that David felt in this scene shows that his masculinity took another knock at that moment. It essentially shows that David could be seen as impotent because he didn't have the strength to get the job done.


Bibliography

Maslin, J (1983) 'Spielberg's 'Duel', Four- Wheel Combat At: http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review? res=9804EFD81138F936A25757C0A965948260 (Accessed on 03.04.2016)

Thomas, W (2000) 'Duel Review' At: http://www.empireonline.com/movies/duel/review/
(accessed on 01.04.2016)

Image Sources

 Fig 1. Marton, Y. TIFF Director and CEO Handling's Top 10 Movies (2013) [Film Snapshot] At: http://www.thestar.com/autos/ 2014/09/04/ tiff_director_and_ceo_piers_handlings_top_10_car_movies.html ( Accessed on 09.05.2016)

Fig 2. Avant, J .Truck or Treat: 5 Iconic Horror Movie Cars (2015) [Film Snapshot] At: https://www.idrivesafely.com/blog/5-scary-movie-cars ( Accessed on 09.05.2016)

Fig 3. Dumas, A. Duel: Not The Rattlesnakes! (2010),  [Film Screenshot] At: http://horrordigest.blogspot.co.uk/2010/03/duel-not-rattlesnakes.html (Accessed 10.05.2016)

No comments:

Post a Comment