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A rhetoric of blood: cinematically depicting the duel




Fischer, Christopher J., author
Diffrient, David S., advisor
Burgchardt, Carl, committee member
Moseman, Eleanor, committee member

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This thesis examines the duel as a pivotal narrative event in three case studies: The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), Barry Lyndon (1975), and The Duellists (1977). I begin by introducing the duel historically and rhetorically. I argue for its importance as a cornerstone of each narrative that lends it strength to stand. In my subsequent analysis, I break the duel into its parts: the insult and challenge, role of seconds, and, finally, the combat. Analysis of the insult and challenge offers insight into the structure of narrative equilibrium and the type of transformation at work, while also delivering keen visual metaphors for various states of narrative. Subsequently, I turn to the seconds of each film as rhetorical proxies. The seconds elaborate a unique deliberative and metaphorical rhetoric that argues for the acceptance of the narrative's form. Lastly, I examine the phenomenological implications of the combat as it frames the filmic body's interaction with a viewing subject, typically referred to as the audience. I argue that this relationship forms a consubstantial bond through identification of viewing subjects. In the end, I offer the duel as a substantive way of understanding the narratives of each film and the experience offered by each film.


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