Over the years, the relevance of period dramas has been observed to be flourishing. Especially when it came to adapting to the screen. Movies like Gladiator, Troy, King Arthur and some more are the benchmark of historical period dramas in the industry. Many came into the world of cinema with different takes on history and tried adapting it for the screen. Some were successful and many were not. A historical movie takes a lot of production enthusiasm as well as names to handle the subject. Ridley Scott is a well-known director in the industry, he is known for his unorthodox choices of subject. He has been a revolutionary director for the industry. One such revolutionary flick could be The Last Duel which was released in the year 2021.
Ridley Scott has been associated with numerous unique projects earlier and even now. But his most endearing project was The Last Duel. Scott’s filmography is famous in the industry, he has given the audience movie like Alien, Prometheus, Gladiator, Blade Runner, The Martian, House of Gucci and many more masterpieces. The Last Duel is somewhat a comeback for Ridley Scott in the genre of period/historical drama. The last periodic big-budget project was Exodus God and Kings starring Christian Bale in 2014. So he took a fair amount of gap before storming into the subject of The Last Duel which is produced by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.
The Last Duel is Based on a True Story
The Last Duel is primarily known as the story of the last ever duel held or rather the last legally permitted duel fought in France. The movie stars Jodie Comer, Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Ben Affleck and was released in 2021. Simultaneously, the movie made a lot of history enthusiasts turn those ancient old French history pages to cross-check the relevance. And each one of those enthusiasts was blown away once they knew the story and watched the movie.
As per the movie synopsis, it is all about the claim by Marguerite de Carrouges played by Jodie Comer, that she is raped by her husband Jean’s friend and squire Jacques Le Gris played by Adam Driver. To prove her claims, Jean played by Matt Damon challenges Le Gris to trial by combat via a duel. Now, there are few lines maintained all through the movie and kept the reel and real separated.
The movie has a runtime of 2 hours 32 minutes and is adapted from a Eric Jager’s The Last Duel: A True Story of Trial by Combat in Medieval France. Also, the unique part about this movie is that the movie follows the same set of incidents three times through the eyes of three core leads of the movie.
The story and incidents are largely told once as they are the same. But the perspectives are different hence the beauty of film-making is explored well. The flick is all about Jean and Le Gris’s friendship and then deteriorating friendship. The movie has showcased each and every character with all sorts of shades and layers. It will not be a sin, if we call The Last Duel a tale of friendship and rage.
After a huge war, Jean is set to marry Marguerite, who is wealthy but her reputation is of a damaged young woman. Her father had sided against the king numerous times, and though to many she would seem unmarriageable, for Jean, who desperately needed land, wealth and an heir. She was the perfect match.
Le Gris continued to rise in esteem to Count Pierre’s played by Ben Affleck. In real life, there was another complicating factor. Jean bought a land and was forced to turn it over to Pierre, blaming Le Gris for it. There was a huge rift between Jean and Le Gris regarding a land before everything either way. There were numerous instances which are not shown in the movie. But Le Gris had become the favorite Pierre and Jean was building the rage within him and acting it out on the war field.
So soon Jean goes for a war leaving behind Marguerite, that is when she got involved into an “altercation” with Le Gris who was just there to showcase his love for her. Hence. The Last Duel is a spiral of child’s play with emotions.
The Last Duel Ending Explained
The Last Duel showcased all three perspectives of the core characters and each revealed basic logic behind the incidents which took place. According to Le Gris, Pierre was befriending him because Pierre did not like an act of disobedience towards him by Jean. And also the night of the “altercation”, there was hints of teasing and manipulation involved from Marguerite which actually initiated the consensual incident. But through Marguerite’s point of view there was no such consent given to Le Gris.
While the duel at the end, just before Jean manages to stab a knife into Le Gris’s mouth (throat in real life). Jean asked Le Gris whether he raped his wife or not and Le Gris denied even then. But as we see Jean throughout the movie and the story. It is revealed that he started to drift apart from sanity and entered a grey shade of life. Whereas, when we observe Marguerite, she has been unhappy and unsatisfied with her husband. Since the start which prolonged her devotion for a while. But then after she was introduced to Le Gris, she started manifesting a somewhat bond with Le Gris. The bond was not meant to be if ethics is concerned. But during the medieval France, ethics and values where the last thing to be remembered by the people.
Now the real deal is whether Marguerite really manifested the whole incident. And Le Gris was a mere victim in it or not? So the last few scenes of the movie showcased a beautiful scene where Marguerite was show nor happy nor too sad while Jean was celebrating Le Gris’s death and public hanging. Which actually answered a lot of questions that Marguerite was never happy in the marriage. But she was never going to destroy it either. Lastly it is told that Jean died after a year or so in a war and Marguerite managed to rule the kingdom for 30 more years with her children by her side.
Thus, the ending closes some of those questionable doors but few questions are unanswered. And they are beautifully left that way.