At 83 years of age, the British Ridley Scott (Blade Runner Y Alien) continues to be a director who necessarily has to be sought out in each installment, no matter that sometimes he does not focus on the exact target, or stumbles in patriotic deviations as in black hawk fall (2001).
In 2021 Scott unveiled the last duel –which will soon go on television– based on a novel by literature professor Eric Pager which, in turn, is inspired by the last duel to the death that occurred in Europe, France exactly, on December 29, 1386, a duly documented process, although brought to the screen with the usual artistic license.
The duel takes place after the knight Jean de Carrouges accused the squire Jacques LeGris of having raped his wife, the beautiful Marguerite de Carrouges. A trial will take place, unusual for a time marked by dogmatism, and finally, in the face of prevailing doubts, King Carlos VI decides that the best way to reach the truth in the eyes of God is to fight a duel to the death. Whoever wins will be right, but if LeGris wins, the knight’s wife will be burned as punishment for false accusations.
Based on these antecedents, Ridley Scott builds a period drama dominated by passions, without leaving aside (or rather enriching it) a determining factor, although generally absent in those chivalric novels that we once devoured: economic ambition. represented in lands, castles and subjects condemned to bend their backs for the benefit of their lords.
The novelist Eric Pager collaborated, but the script was carried out by two protagonists of the last duel, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, who wrote the male characters, while Nicole Holofcener wrote Marguerite de Carrouges, the outraged lady. Much of the film rests on a structure quite similar to Rashomon, Akira Kurosawa’s classic, which resorted to several possible truths about a fact depending on the witness who spoke. The viewer will then have the responsibility to determine guilt, as exposed by those involved in the conflict.
Three points of view in three stories told three times and with scenes that are repeated, although there are decisive changes and nuances to be aware of. A perfectly constructed film, supported by investigations that lasted ten years, solid performances, with the greatest recognition for Adam Driver, as the impetuous squire, and Jodie Comer in the role of the lady, but also the question of whether Ridley Scott, in his eagerness to assume Kurosawa’s narrative structure, but at the same time with the intention of being different, falls into narrative redundancies by assuming the different versions, which unnecessarily lengthens the film.
the last duel presents a perfectly armed picture of the French society of the fourteenth century. Thus, they highlight the importance of honor, the caste relationship, exalted violence, war as the ideal vehicle to obtain wealth and power, marriage as a social-economic alliance, and other issues that perhaps make us think that, in some aspects, that picture of twisted values has not changed much in all these years, hence the obvious nod of support for the feminist struggle, and the MeToo movement, which the director makes in his film.