“The Last Duel”: Ridley Scott resurrects a true medieval story that resonates today

We know Ridley Scott’s interest in the historical film (Duelists, Gladiator, Gates of Heaven, Robin Hood). It recurs with the Middle Ages in The Last Duel, in theaters Wednesday, October 13. A true story that resonates today, the heart of the matter being the rape complaint of a noblewoman. A courageous and risky act at the time, and which remains so today, at the time of #Metoo.

In the 1380s, Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) and Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) were good friends before becoming rivals. Married to Carrouges, Marguerite (Jodie Comer) pleases Le Gris more than reason, who rapes her at home. When her husband returns, she reveals the assault to him, rejected by its author, and wants to denounce it before the king. An accusation that puts everyone’s life in danger: a duel to the death between Carrouges and Le Gris, Marguerite risking being burned alive.

Inspired by the book The Last Duel: Paris December 29, 1386 Eric Jager (Flammarion), who relates these events in Burgundy, Ridley Scott decides to tell them in three distinct parts. The first relates the version of the husband Jean de Carrouges, the second exposes that of the aggressor Jacques Le Gris, the third focuses on the testimony of the victim, Marguerite. A narration that refers to Rashomon (1950), where Akira Kurosawa told the same story through four witnesses, a form that has since become a model.

The virtuosity of the historical re-enactment according to Ridley Scott is obvious. Costumes, sets, lighting and atmospheres dazzle with their sober and spectacular realism. Beyond the technical quality of a perfectionist director, the narrative bias is most convincing. The three successive versions prune the repetitions over the course of the story, then they take other turns depending on the role of the characters. Rape is clear to the viewer, but it is questioned by the husband, refuted by the abuser, and described by the victim.

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Jodie Comer in "The Last Duel" by Ridley Scott.  (20th CENTURY FOX? All Rights Reserved)

The stake of the film is the outcome of the duel, which will determine the relevance or not of Marguerite to have denounced The Gray. The suspense during the confrontation is all the more intense: a remarkable tournament scene, where the outcome is never predictable. Will Ridley Scott deliver an optimistic or pessimistic message in the end? The doubt persists until the end of a film where the director gives the best of himself. Beautiful, historic and topical.

Poster of "The Last Duel" by Ridley Scott.  (20th CENTURY FOX, All Rights Reserved)

Kind : Historical drama
Directors : Ridley scott
Actors : Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer, Ben Affleck, Harriet Walter, Nathaniel Parker, Sam Hazeldine, Ian Pirie
Country : United States
Duration : 2h33
Exit : October 13, 2021
Distributer : The Walt Disney Company France

Forbidden to children under 12 with warning

Synopsis : Based on real events, the film unveils old hypotheses about the last known judicial duel in France – also called “Judgment of God” – between Jean de Carrouges and Jacques Le Gris, two friends who over time have become bitter rivals. Carrouges is a respected knight, known for his bravery and skill on the battlefield. Le Gris is a Norman squire whose intelligence and eloquence make him one of the most admired nobles of the court. When Marguerite, Carrouges’ wife, is violently attacked by Le Gris – an accusation that the latter rejects – she refuses to remain silent, not hesitating to denounce her attacker and to impose herself in an act of bravery and defiance. which puts his life in danger. The ensuing ordeal – a grueling duel to the death – places the destiny of each in the hands of God.

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