Trailer Tuesday! The Last Duel (2021)

22

Content warning: References to sexual assault.

The trailer for The Last Duel (2021) dropped recently, and while there haven’t been a lot of promotional shots showing the costumes, we thought it was worth mentioning since it’s shaping up to be a hot ticket film, what with Adam Driver starring opposite Matt Damon.

Set in the 14th century, this film is based on a true story of the last trial by combat in the Kingdom of France. The precipitating event leading up to the duel between Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon), a knight from Normandy, and his neighbor and fellow knight, Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) was Carrouges’ wife’s alleged rape by Le Gris. After escalating the matter up to the Count d’Alençon but finding no recourse after Alençon effectively pardoned Le Gris without bothering to hear Carrouges’ wife’s testimony, Carrouges takes it upon himself to visit the King of France to appeal his case and call for a judicial duel to resolve the matter. I won’t go too much deeper into the actual history at this point, because I haven’t seen the film yet and can’t comment on how closely it follows the historical events, but suffice it to say, a duel gets fought and one of them dies.

What I do find interesting enough to mention, is that this is film was produced by Ridely Scott, who was also known for another dueling film at the start of his career, the impeccably researched The Duelists (1977). Now, as a producer, Scott seems less concerned with meticulous historical accuracy than he was as a director, and the costume photos I’ve found of The Last Duel bear this out. There’s some serious What the Frock? choices being made:

There’s at least one head necklace (ignore the puffy jacket and Uggs, clearly this is a behind-the-scenes shot).

 

There’s panné velvet and a thoroughly debunked “jacket” that is based on a complete misunderstanding of 14th-century construction that dates to the Victorian era. So, that’s cool.

 

Noting the interesting hair for Kendra!

 

This hat … thing … is not at all something you’d find in the 14th century, but I’m not mad about it. At least her hair is up and sorta covered.

 

This looks possibly like the only “interesting” dress in the film, but the cleavage and the beachy waves … I guess wimples are too ugly for modern audiences. Don’t tell Sophie Marceau.

 

We have Matt Damon in embossed… leather? Sure, whatever.

 

Ben Affleck as the Count. Pretty much everything looks good here, right down to his shoes. Also, digging him as a blond!

 

This costume isn’t terrible! I don’t hate it!

 

Wait. Matt Damon has a MULLET??? GQ even brought in a “historical hair expert” to tell us that, nah fam, it’s cool, the “medieval mullet” is totes historically accurate. I really want to see their documentation.

 

Long and flow-y? Yes. Business up front, party in the back? No.

 

I’m filing this film away for my next installment of “Films With Extras Dressed Better than the Lead Actors.”

 

Adam Driver in the least-flattering suit of armor I’ve ever seen … Nice belts, though.

And speaking of armor … Now, I am not by any means an armor specialist. We have tried numerous times to recruit someone to come and actually do an overview of good and bad armor on film, but apparently we can’t manage to entice anyone with any kind of armor historian credentials, so I’ll be honest and say, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this is based on some archaic helm from the era, and I’m just talking out of my ass. But seriously…

The fuck is this half-face helmet fuckery?

This guy seems to know what he’s talking about, so since we don’t have our own in-house armor expert to weigh in, I’m going to use him as our stunt expert:

I mean, really, we all know the “perfectly reasonable explanation for it” is almost entirely the result of having to figure out a way to show the audiences which actor is which, allowing them to emote and whatnot (although Adam Driver emoted just fine from behind a full mask as Kylo Ren, I’m just saying).

This commenter knows what’s up, though.

Anyway, we will be seeing the film when it comes out, so rest assured there will be more said on all of these topics.

 

 

Will you be watching The Last Duel?

22 Responses

  1. Constance

    The Duelists by the way is really enjoyable…saw it Tubi or one of the free streaming services…

    Reply
    • M.E. Lawrence

      Yes–great period feel, and well-acted, as I recall. This flick, though–the term “half-face helmet fuckery” stopped me mid-read; war helmets couldn’t mess around for the sake of style, or the wearer would be dead within minutes. (But it’s the war horses I really worry about in such productions, and I’m not even a horse person.)

      Reply
  2. Marquess

    I think two screenshots of actress Jodie Comer come from The White Princess, the one with green “headband” and one with silver gown and beachy waves :P

    Reply
  3. mjsamuelson

    I didn’t hate the trailer (though the mullet….just completing Matt Damon’s new identity as a flyover-state stereotype, IMHO), and honestly, I think this is a really interesting point in history to explore on film. A shame about the costuming choices, but I’m giving it a watch for sure.

    Reply
  4. Al Don

    I’m not that excited for this, even if I find the subject fascinating. Eric Jager’s book is great, even if imaginative with some details. Froissart, who has the distinction of being one of the few contemporary chroniclers to record the event, has a very interesting take on it. I read it before Jager’s work.

    The mullet thing also baffled me, including the odd defense. There was a highly common hairstyle at the time for men: curled on the sides, parted in the middle, and groomed, forked beard. I’ve never seen a single visual justification for the 90’s hair metal mullet. But, you have to remember those are sadly puff pieces meant to sell a film’s “authenticity”. Remember: when writing about The King (2019), the website Fashionista tried to sell the idea of costume stitching inspired by Tudor architecture as authentic, which doesn’t even begin to make sense. Same with the write-ups lauding the awful armour in Knightfall as the “most authentic costume[s]”.

    The men also sport the “beard with no mustache” look, which doesn’t resemble the period. That’s not to say entirely wrong, since maybe someone wore it like that, but was that a “look” for the late 14th Century? No. You pretty much always see complete beards.

    I don’t share your enthusiasm for some of the men’s costumes. By this point, it was more common for non-arming top wear to cut off at mid-thigh. It was a huge change from earlier in the century. The tailoring was also a much better fitting: the “Pourpoint of Charles de Blois”, even if ~20 years early, is a great example of what tailoring should look like. Again, maybe not wrong, but emblematic of the time? Not really.

    You are right about the helmet: it is historically unjustified and suicidal in its stupidity. Even if complete, it doesn’t resemble helmets of the time. If you look at Ian LaSpina’s Instagram, he has a good take-down of the idea.

    Le Gris (Adam Driver)’s armour is also atrocious. It was apparently inspired by a much later “In Modo Antiquo” image. There’s plenty of evidence for armour at the time.

    I wouldn’t expect authenticity from Ridley Scott. His closest – though not entirely authentic – work is The Duellists (1977), probably precisely because he had the least artistic freedom. He’s not a medievalist; he’s a modern Victorian medievalist, which is quite a ways different.

    [/rant]

    Reply
  5. Michael McQuown

    I have had a review of the Duellists ready for months, but don’t know how to submit it.

    Reply
  6. Charity

    I need to see this. Actual need.

    Two of those screen caps are indeed from TWP, so… that will spare us some costume fuckery, yes? xD

    Reply
  7. Ariane

    I think the doily head and tits out images are from the white princess? So I suppose that’s something

    Reply
  8. Nzie

    I saw the trailer a few weeks ago and promptly started googling to figure out what it was about (a rare instance when I actually wanted more info/guidance from the trailer; also the different accents threw me; not sure it’s the same trailer as this). There’s definitely some fantasy stuff going on with the costumes… it also looks like Ye Olde Medieval Times Are Dark and Dirty. But I think Damon and Affleck are pretty good writers.. I’d consider watching it, but it mostly made me want to read about the trial. It also caught me out on an assumption I had that trial by combat was much more common much later than it apparently was.

    Reply
  9. Lily Lotus Rose

    Oh, dear. This story seems intriguing–but Lord, the casting–I don’t know if I’ll be able to get into it due to this cast. And Ben Affleck as a blond–No. Just no.

    Reply
  10. Al Don

    If you wanted to read about it, here’s Jean Froissart’s original description, translated into modern English:

    https://uts.nipissingu.ca/muhlberger/FROISSART/TRIAL.HTM

    Some of the word choice in translation are questionable, including translating the names, but it’s much the same as the translation I read.

    Here’s Eric Jager’s modern take on it, including trail details not included in Froissart, and a good assessment of the controversies:

    https://www.laphamsquarterly.org/scandal/woman-black

    That covers most of the main points of his book.

    (Spoilers for history, I guess)

    Reply
  11. Hooley

    The Duellists is one of my favorite films. Still astonishing to me that Harvey. Keitel learned how to use a sword on set — William Hobbs, the fight choreographer, was a genius. Not sure about “The Last Duel” though.

    Reply
  12. Ji-Soo Kweon

    The two close-up photos of Jodie Comer are from The White Princess, not the trailer of The Last Duel

    Reply
  13. Stella

    My thoughts:

    Omg i didn’t know Liv Tyler as Arwen was making an appearance!
    The looped up braids on Jodie Comer are actually a pretty well done medieval recreation, but seen from the sides it’s clearly a Botticelli / da Vinci-inspired style, right?
    Nooooo not the mullet!!! Bad!!!!
    There’s a Saturday Night Live skit with Adam Driver as an overenthusiastic employee at Medieval Times and I can’t unsee that when looking at these images

    Reply
  14. Damnitz

    I saw the Trailer and my first impression was: “Ridley Scott is working again?” And Yes! Although maybe nobody else knows why the producers were looking so long for a director and then decided that Ridley Scott would be the men. It’s all so much looking like “Robin Hood” with all that mad medieval is dirty and fantasy … style. On top of that Matt Damon is looking like a heavy German Youtuber… The main plot to put a duel in the focus of a movie is such a great idea. But then to give the job to Ridley Scott is so …
    I will see it in the cinema nevertheless.

    Reply
  15. Aleko

    I found the GQ article (https://www.gq.com/story/lets-talk-about-the-hair-in-the-last-duel) and I’d say it’s a classic example of the Bad Re-enactment Costuming argument that goes “X existed in some places and some times during the period; so did Y. Therefore, it’s perfectly legit for me to combine the two, even though I can’t produce a single example of the two being combined; and I don’t have to take the trouble to do either X or Y in a realistically period way.”

    Because while one does sometimes see fringes* on men toward the end of the 14th century, one doesn’t see them with centrally-parted waved long hair; they go with a straight pageboy bob, and from the early 15th also with a bowl cut. And of course the cut across the forehead is strictly sharp and even, with no layering, graduation or chipping – as here.
    https://www.museothyssen.org/en/collection/artists/weyden-rogier-van-der-attributed/portrait-man

    As for the costuming: Janty Yates was upfront that for Kingdom of Heaven she had worked not on genuine medieval costume but on 19th-century medievalist art. You can argue with that concept but it worked; it was aesthetically consistent, and because 19th-century medievalist art is actually where the popular idea of medieval clothing comes from, the eye accepts it even if the head actually knows better. But this just looks like a mess.

    This side of the Atlantic, “fringe” is the only word we use for front hair cut short: only horses’ tails get “banged”. It always sounds quite odd to me to hear the word applied to people!

    Reply

Feel the love

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.