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Power, Honor, Bravery, and Chivalry Collide in ‘The Last Duel’

Paris, Dec. 29, 1386: a frozen, sleet-ridden day. A crowd braves the cold, peasants, and royals alike. Two knights are outfitted in armor. Duly-shielded and beweaponed, they mount armored steeds, jousts pointed to the sky and take off armed, one at the other. 

This is the scene that’s revealed in the latest preview for 20th Century Studios’ “The Last Duel,” set to open in theaters on Friday, Oct. 15. The film will unfold the gripping events that lead up to this fated meeting, a dramatic tale of betrayal and vengeance. Even more intriguing, it turns out that this Hollywood creation references a true-to-life ‘last duel.’ 

The latest script to emerge from a Ben Affleck-Matt Damon collaboration, as directed by four-time Academy Award nominee Ridley Scott, “The Last Duel” is derived from Eric Jager’s book of the same name (“The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal, and Trial by Combat in Medieval France”). “The Last Duel” intends to explore men’s ubiquitous power in the Middle Ages, set against a woman’s courage and the frailty of justice during a time when royalty and power were consecrated by the divine. 

The film will show the story behind France’s last sanctioned duel, a fight between Jean de Carrouges (Damon) and Jacques Le Gris (played by Adam Driver), two friends turned bitter rivals. Carrouges was a respected knight known for bravery and skill on the battlefield; Le Gris a Norman squire whose intelligence and eloquence made him an admired court noble. 

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The drama (and the end of their friendship) began when Carrouges’ wife, Marguerite (Jodie Comer), claims a vicious assault at Le Gris’s hands, a charge he denies. Though her accusation, an apparent act of bravery and defiance puts her life in jeopardy, Marguerite refuses to stay silent. The ensuing trial by combat and duel to the death, places the trio’s fate in fortune’s hands.

Scott, the visionary auteur behind “Gladiator” and “The Martian,” seems the perfect man to bring this historic epic and what was a trying and tempestuous Middle Ages existence to the screen. The just-released trailer transports audiences to the brutal reality that was 14th century France in the midst of the Hundred Years War. Wind whips under a French woman’s voice, both sounds vibrating off of stone. Flickering candles barely breach the gray morning, hailstones knock a bleak rhythm against iron-paned windows. The spareness of sound ratchets up the tension, each twist of string and clink of armor echoes the anticipated hush that will be a fatal battle between the two men. 

“One of us has lied,” Damon-as-de Carrouges says. “Let us let God decide.”

Read More: A 700-Year-Old Knights Templar Hideout

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