CINEMA – Ridley Scott – to whom we also owe Gladiator Where Alien – definitely has a passion for jousting. After starting his career as a director with The Duelists in 1977, the filmmaker returns in theaters this Wednesday, October 13 with The Last Duel, whose trailer can be seen at the top of the article. Warning, this article contains some spoilers on the plot of the film.
The historical film, inspired by the book The Last Duel: Paris December 29, 1386 by Eric Jager and partly co-written by the duo Matt damon-Ben Affleck, presents a true story dating from the end of the 14th century: that of the last French judicial duel, otherwise called “Judgment of God”, opposing two friends who had become rivals: the valiant knight and former squire Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) and the charismatic squire Jacques Le Gris (Adam driver).
In the Kingdom of France, when the first city returned from a military expedition, his wife Marguerite de Thibouville (Jodie Comer) made him serious revelations. In her absence, Jacques Le Gris raped her. Determined to wash his honor as well as that of his wife, Jean de Carrouges then asked for a “trial through combat”, accepted by King Charles VI (Alex Lawther). The stakes are simple: if the knight is killed at the end of the duel, his wife will be burned alive for false accusations.
Ridley Scott therefore brings to the screen a punchy story in which the words of women, caught in the grip of an implacable patriarchal society, are put to the test. To tell his story, the director has also chosen to divide it into three parts. “The truth according to Jean de Carrouges” at first, then “according to Jacques Le Gris”, and finally according to Marguerite, the latter being simply entitled “the truth”. Because yes, the rape did take place as explained by Nicole Holofcener, co-writer of the Last Duel, during a press conference at which The HuffPost has assisted.
“Without ambiguity, there is rape. The question was whether we wanted to show it once or twice in the film, ”she argues. Indeed, the scene of the aggression represents the central point of the feature film, the apogee of the rivalry between Jean de Carrouges and Jacques Le Gris, the latter ardently desiring the wife of the former.
“Once the stage is in a box, all the technicians left the stage”
The act engenders the legal duel that the two protagonists subsequently engage in. A crucial scene whose design has therefore tortured the minds of the film crew for a long time. How long to bring it? Should we vary the points of view?
“It was necessary to integrate the vision of Jacques Le Gris. It was important because he does not realize, does not make a difference ”, indicates for his part Ridley Scott. If the rehearsals are present, certain unpublished details allow us to know more about the main characters.
An issue, as huge as it is delicate, which required careful preparation on the part of the actors, as Jodie Comer tells us (Killing Eve). “It was all a question of acting. We spoke to each other before the stage (with Adam Driver) to find out what we wanted to express by it. It’s an extremely strong part of the film. So we had to try to play differently, but it’s not always easy ”.
And when asked how she felt when filming the sequence, the actress explains: “I felt strangely relaxed. I knew I was in good hands and safe. There was support ”. She explains: “The day before, we had rehearsed the movements without dialogue or emotion. On D-Day, we did it three times. Once the stage was in the box, all the technicians left the stage for a few moments to allow us to breathe. We wanted to see which sides we could change or explore a little more. It was a very respectful way of doing things ”.
Showing this story on screen, which is very popular today in the age of the #MeToo movement, was important to Ridley Scott. “When I learned that at the time this kind of assault was happening every four and a half minutes, I was in shock. Describing the abuses of which women are victims was close to my heart, ”he says. “We did not decide to make this film in relation to today’s news”, nonetheless informs Nicole Holofcener. “We did it because it’s a strong story. We could have done the same thing 20 years ago, the message would have been the same ”.
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