Thursday, October 22, 2009


Are you a the owner (driver) of a car/two-wheeler? Have you ever been chased or harassed by another vehicle? Have you been tail-gated by trucks/buses and had to swear at them?

Happened to watch "Duel", a movie made for TV in 1971 and the first movie of Steven Spielberg. Dug it out again from the Net sometime back and watched it (Search for Duel on The movie is a more or less a precursor of our Kamalhassan's பேசும் படம் in that there is practically very little dialogue (maybe uses 3 sheets of paper) and the movie moves on the strength of its protagonist, a truck and its unseen driver. This movie is an example of a taut thriller which depends heavily on only 2 actors and uses the fear of the unknown to create a roaring suspense.

David (Dennis Weaver) is on his way to another town on a country road when he passes a slow 18 wheeler. He pisses off the truck driver by honking to pass and doing some maneuvering in his car to get ahead. Something snaps in the truck driver and he scares the hell out of David by almost mowing the car down in a series of incidents that leaves him rattled. A cat and mouse game begins with each of them trying to outwit each other, with a "cliff-hanger" climax.

Spielberg leaves a lot to the viewer's imagination. There is no rationale in why the truck driver does so. The truck driver is even shown to help out a stranded vehicle. He leaves a few hints here and there, but it is up to us to join the dots. The truck driver's face is never shown in the movie.

The movie slowly unfolds and it is after the second incident with the truck that you feel something is going to happen. Once David figures out that the truck driver is out to get him, he tries to shake it off his trail by accelerating, stopping at a roadside hotel, getting out of the road and hiding in a side road but to no avail. He even tries to call the highway police to a disastrous effect.

The fear within David slowly gets into you as you the movie progresses. It is after the movie ends that you relax. Spielberg slowly builds the tension before he concludes.

It is not a flawless movie (ஆனாலும் நிறைய பேர், hotelல room போட்டு, கண்ணுல விளக்கெண்ணய ஊத்தி, படம் பாத்து, தப்பு கண்டு பிடிக்கறாங்கபா. Look at IMDB's entry for this movie, Goofs section), but Duel is worth watching to see how Spielberg keeps you hooked for the better part of 1.5 hours.

Coming back to our roads, I have noticed that our truck drivers on highways are more fair-mannered than the other car or bus drivers. All the zig-zagging and monkey tricks are done by the cars and to an extent buses.

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