Da'ud Bob's Movie Review
December 2021

I have to admit, I’d been waiting for this one to finally show up in the theaters for quite a while. Although, admittedly, not with the greatest anticipation, since: (1) it was “based on true events”, which is often a death knell for a historical movie; and (2) some of the scenes in the previews left me questioning just how accurate it was going to be. So when it opened in the theaters, I made my way there, hopeful but with some strong qualms, to see what I could see. As it turns out, some of it was far better than I had anticipated. But, alas, some of it was pretty much what I had expected. But so it is that this month, Da’ud Bob reviews for you “the unbelievable true story”, as one of the previews put it, of The Last Duel.

Directed by Ridley Scott (whose first movie was The Duellists, based on a true story about two men who fought a series of duels during the Napoleonic era), and starring Matt Damon as Sir Jean de Carrouges, Adam Driver as Jacques Le Gris, Jodie Comer as Marguerite de Carrouges, Harriet Walter as Nicole de Carrouges, Ben Affleck as Pierre d'Alençon, Alex Lawther as King Charles VI, and Serena Kennedy as Queen Isabeau, the “duel” of the title was the last royall-sanctioned duel to take place in France, in the year 1386. The movie opens with the beginnings of the duel itself, and then goes back several years to give you the series of events which led to it. The trick to the movie is that the backstory is told three times: once from the point of view of Jean de Carrouges; once from that of Jacques Le Gris; and again from that of Jean’s wife, Marguerite. Rather like Rashomon meets Henry V, although this is some years before the 1415 Battle of Agincourt, following which Henry V of England married Catherine, the daughter of King Charles VI of France, who is only about 18 and still under the regency of some of his uncles in this movie. The central act leading to the suit before the king and the ensuing duel is the rape of Marguerite de Carrouges by Jacques Le Gris, so we get to see that twice, once each from the viewpoint of each participant.

Good points: The movie really gives you a feel for late 14th Century France. The mail hauberk. Much of the armor. The banners. The horses. The king’s and queen’s robes. Much of the heraldry, including the use of France Modern (a blue shield with three golden fleurs-de-lys), which came into use in 1386, just ten years before the duel of the title. The mail coifs. The soundtrack and songs. The arena where the duel took place, and the many people there to watch it, matches the historic descriptions.

Bad points: The “half-faced” bascinet helmets. Where’s all the color gone? (Look at any late 14th Century illuminated manuscript; the knights and horses in their caparisons, the banners, the shields, are a riot of color. Most of what’s in the movie is pretty muted at best.) The much-abbreviated oaths of fealty. The mullet haircuts. The spaghetti strap negligee. I have serious doubts about some of the  women’s hairstyles, and the lack of hair coverings in public. The overshot mill wheel with no place for the water to come from. The huge bed. (It looked like a king-sized bed, much, much larger than any period beds I have seen.) Pierre d'Alençon’s bleached hair.

Two breasts. Two gallons of blood. 27 dead bodies. Lance fu. Sword fu. Dagger fu. Chainmail fu. (No, really!) Battle axe fu. Arrow fu. Flaming arrow fu. Heads roll. Gratuitous geese. Gratuitous orgy scene. I’d say gratuitous rape, but it is in fact central to the story. Gratuitous man-splaining: “A rape cannot cause a pregnancy; it’s just science.” A 68 on the Vomit Meter. Three stars. Da’ud Bob says, “It was a little too rape-y for my personal taste, but overall it was a better, (mostly) more accurate, and interesting movie than I had expected it to be. But it needed to have a lot more color in it. Check it out!”

Upcoming movies and miniseries to watch for!

Dungeons and Dragons
March 3, 2023
Plot undisclosed at this time, but like earlier iterations, it is based on the tabletop role-playing game. Directed John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, starring Regé-Jean Page, Chris Pine, Hugh Grant, Michelle Rodriguez, and Justice Smith.

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