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Duel Blu-ray

United States
DigiPack Universal Studios | 1971 | 89 min | Rated PG | No Release Date

Duel (Blu-ray)
Temporary cover art

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC (34.03 Mbps)
Resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Original aspect ratio: 1.37:1, 1.85:1

English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Spanish: DTS 5.1
Note: 2.0 mono...

English SDH, French, Spanish

50GB Blu-ray Disc
Single disc (1 BD)


Region A (B, C untested)

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TV show rating
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Blu-ray rating
Video 4.5 of 54.5
Audio 4.0 of 54.0
Extras 2.5 of 52.5
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Movie appeal



 (TV) (1971)

Duel Blu-ray delivers stunning video and great audio in this excellent Blu-ray release

While traveling through the California desert for a business appointment, David Mann passes a smoky tanker truck. A game of cat-and-mouse quickly escalates into a life-and-death battle between David and the unseen trucker, with their vehicles as weapons.

For more about Duel and the Duel Blu-ray release, see Duel Blu-ray Review published by on where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.

Starring: Dennis Weaver, Jacqueline Scott, Eddie Firestone, Lou Frizzell, Gene Dynarski, Lucille Benson
Director: Steven Spielberg

» See full cast & crew

Duel Blu-ray, Video Quality

  4.5 of 5

The 1.85:1 aspect ratio of Universal's Blu-ray of Duel will no doubt be a source of controversy, since it could be fairly argued that the film's original aspect ratio should be 1.33:1, which was its format on DVD. Then again, the OAR of this version of Duel, which was created for theatrical exhibition, was arguably 1.85:1; so it could also be said that the Blu-ray's presentation corrects the DVD's error. Spielberg was involved to at least some extent in the creation of the widescreen version, as evidenced by his shooting of the additional scenes and his reference in various interviews (including the "Conversation" in this disc's extras) to discovering that opening up the frame in some of the shots revealed that he was in the back seat of the car giving direction to Dennis Weaver. In a perfect world, two versions of Duel would be included, the 74-minute broadcast version framed at 1.33:1 and the 90-minute (technically, 89-minute) version framed at 1.85:1.

As far as the 1.85:1 version on Universal's 1080p, AVC-encoded Blu-ray is concerned, the image capably reproduces the kinetic energy of the location cinematography by studio veteran Jack Marta (Cat Ballou, Plaza Suite). Detail is excellent in moments where the scenery isn't rushing past, and it's often much better than the screen captures indicate, because the camera itself is so frequently in motion that it's difficult to stop the action without creating motion blur. Although the image does not completely escape the processed look that is the hallmark of Universal catalog transfers, the digital tampering appears to be minimal. Natural-looking film grain is evident, and to the extent that any electronic sharpening has been used, the application is minimal. Contrast is strong throughout, and this is no doubt intentional for a film that its makers knew would be seen on TV screens with limited resolution. Because of the high contrast levels and a slight overbrightening, even strong colors are somewhat muted. For example, the red sedan driven by David Mann (the color was stipulated by Spielberg so that the car would stand out against the brown, green and gray landscape) isn't especially bright, although it is always distinctively red.

The high quality of the Blu-ray's presentation is especially evident in the famous final confrontation between Mann's automobile and the tanker truck adversary: a long, continuous shot with multiple moving elements, all of which are rendered with impressive clarity and fine detail. It doesn't hurt that Universal has mastered Duel with a high average bitrate of 34.03 Mbps. The film is filled with many such scenes of complex action that make good use of the bandwidth.

Duel Blu-ray, Audio Quality

  4.0 of 5

Duel was originally released in mono, which is supplied here in lossless DTS-HD MA 2.0 with identical left and right front channels. The soundtrack was remixed for 5.1 for the 2003 DVD release, and that mix is also offered as the default audio track in lossless DTS-HD MA. The remix is conservative, leaving almost all of the sound in front where it belongs, and adding only the slightest sense of stereo expansion to the elaborate sound mix, most of which had to be created after the fact with dubbing and foley. The roar of the truck, the sound of the highway rushing by, the blare of train whistles and the background noise of the lunch crowd in Chuck's Café are just some of the essential sonic elements that amplify the tension in Duel, and the track reproduces them with good fidelity and surprisingly broad dynamic range (far better than what most TV speakers could have managed in 1971). The inventive score by Billy Goldenberg (Play It Again, Sam), which Spielberg discusses in his interview in the extras, blends so effectively into the mix that you're often unaware of its unnerving contribution to the film's sense of peril.

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