Ridley Scott's first film was based on an actual 30-year long feud between two French officers. In France, it is 1800 and Napoleon is in power. Hotheaded Lt. Gabriel Feraud (Harvey Keitel) skewers the nephew of the mayor of Strasbourg in an epeé blade duel. When Lt. Armand D'Hubert (Keith Carradine) is ordered to arrest him, Feraud becomes offended and immediately challenges D'Hubert to a saber duel. D'Hubert, an aristocratic officer, wounds Feraud's sword arm and would like to have no more of him. However, Feraud persists on pursuing D'Hubert, subject to the rules of honor: No two officers of different rank may duel one another and No duel can take place if the state is at war. The Napoleonic wars stretch their conflict from Augsburg in 1801, where Feraud wounds D'Hubert in both an epee' duel and a brutal saber fight, to Lubeck in 1806 where both are Captains, D'Hubert is to be promoted to Major in a fortnight, but a bar patron points D'Hubert out to Feraud. The regiment expects a duel, so the two cavalry officers square off on horseback. D'Hubert thinks that he will be killed, but D'Hubert actually wounds Feraud in the forehead. The two meet again on the Russian front in the winter of 1812. When D'Hubert volunteers to search for Cossacks alone with Feraud, Feraud aims a pistol at him while the two are out in the wilderness. When some Cossacks arrive, both of the men are forced to discharge their weapons to repel them. D'Hubert offers Feraud a drink to reconcile their conflict, but Feraud brushes it aside. The two part company, both become Generals in Napoleon's army and D'Hubert goes to Tours in 1814 to recover from his war injuries. D'Hubert marries, but learns that Feraud is in Paris impugning his reputation. When Napoleon is overthrown, D'Hubert becomes part of Louis XVIII's army, while Feraud is arrested and sentenced to death. D'Hubert travels to Paris in 1816 and pleads with General Fouchet (Albert Finney) to spare Feraud's life, but requests that Feraud not be told of D'Hubert's intervention. After being freed, Feraud reads in a newspaper that D'Hubert is to be given command of the 5th Cavalry division at Riemes. Feraud seeks out D'Hubert and D'Hubert reluctantly agrees to a pistol duel inside a nearby, ruined castle. Both men are armed with two, single shot pistols and may fire at will. In the duel, Feraud uses up both of his shots while D'Hubert still has one shot remaining. Instead of killing Feraud, D'Hubert declares Feraud dead by the rules of honor and demands that Feraud leave him alone for the rest of his life. D'Hubert returns to his pregnant wife and Feraud is left standing alone on a hilltop.
Thanks, Evil Ed!