Gifted American filmmaker Ridley Scott has got a number of high profile biopics releasing from now until next year. First is the historical drama The Last Duel starring Adam Driver (Marriage Story), Matt Damon (The Martian), and Ben Affleck (Justice League).
While the other biopic House of Guccci concerns the global designer brand Gucci and their infamous, scandalous family saga that rocked the Italian family, The Last Duel is is adapted from the book The Last Duel: A Story of Trial by Combat in Medieval France by Eric Jager, telling the real-life story of a 14th-century duel between a French knight and his squire after the former accuses the latter of raping his wife.
The Last Duel was originally scheduled for theatrical release in January 2021, but the COVID-19 pandemic caused significant production delays, moving the now official release date to October 15, 2021.
The Last Duel will signify the return of frequent collaborators Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, the latter of which plays the lead role as knight Jean de Carrouges in the movie. Further cast members include Adam Driver in Damon’s opposing role as the squire Jacques Le Gris, Killing Eve actress Jodie Comer as Jean’s wife, and Alex Lawther as King Charles VI.
Ridley Scott tackles the momentous 14th century battle to the death, in 14th century France, with the specific date of the climactic duel taking place on December 29, 1386. The plot takes place in Medieval Europe at the time when the Hundred Years War was only 50 years into its 116-year timeline. The War was primarily between England and France, and raged over kingship.
Jean de Carrouges’ wife was a controversial figure as the daughter of Robert de Thibouville, a Norman lord who had notably sided against multiple French kings in territorial disputes. Carrouges married her in hopes of an heir and attempted to use his newfound claim to his father-in-law’s property to win back a piece of land from his rival Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver). The claim went to court against Count Pierre who owned the property and gave it to Le Gris, though after Carrouges lost the lawsuit, his reputation among Pierre’s court declined and his feud with Le Gris grew. After two more failed attempts at growing his territorial claim, Carrouges blamed Le Gris for his defeats. About a year later, the men reconnected and vowed to end their feud, whereafter Carrouges introduced Le Gris to his wife.
After a series of French defeats in the Hundred Years War, Carrouges returned home broke and defeated while Le Gris became more wealthy and developed a womanizing reputation. On a day when Marguerite was left home alone without her mother or servants, a rarity in the Middle Ages for noblewomen, Le Gris apparently showed up at her house with a claim that he loved her desperately. She protested, so Le Gris forced his way into her house and inquired about having an affair. When she again refused, he violently raped her with assistance from his friend Adam Louvel. He claimed he would kill her if she told anyone, so she stayed silent until her husband returned home, whereafter she confessed to him and a counsel what happened with Le Gris.
After Count Pierre acquitted Le Gris on all charges and accused Marguerite of dreaming up the entire affair, Carrouges appealed to the young King Charles VI himself. Carrouges believed he would not find another fair criminal trial, so he requested a trial by combat to the death wherein the surviving dueller is deemed by God to be the rightful claimant. The preliminary trial’s judges couldn’t decide who was guilty, so the case moved to one of trial by combat, a once common practice in France that had become quite rare in the late 13th century.
While the event has been remembered as the last duel of France, The Last Duel is not technically an accurate description. Dueling had become pretty uncommon in France by the time Carrouge and Le Gris battled, so it was a rare spectacle featuring notable names that drew in a vast crowd. Ridley Scott’s movie documents the last judicial duel permitted by a French king and the Parliament of Paris, but it wasn’t the true last duel of France in the literal sense.
Just like most Ridley Scott movies, the last duel promises to be packed with brilliant performances, especially given it’s interesting plot.
Are you excited for this one? Last Duel releases on theatres from October 15, 2021.