Based on the titular 2004 book by Eric Jager, the film – directed by Ridley Scott, with Affleck and Damon writing, producing and starring – is based on the true story of the last medieval trial by combat.
Set in 14th century France, the story follows a duel between Jean de Carrouges (Damon) and Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver), after the latter rapes the former’s wife, Marguerite de Carrouges (Jodie Comer).
Take a look at the film’s trailer below:
In a press conference at the Venice Film Festival, shortly before The Last Duel was screened for the first time, Affleck was asked to share his thoughts around topics of consent and toxic masculinity. When asked if he identified as a feminist, he said (per The Daily Beast): “Yes, I do consider myself a feminist.
“And this movie principally was really exciting to me because of the character of Marguerite – her extraordinary strength and bravery seemed very obvious when I read the book. And also, it was a true story that people didn’t know.
“This was an incredible woman from history who is an early known recorded person who spoke out against a powerful man who assaulted her. Naturally, that seemed relevant – and also incredibly thrilling, and a story that could generate a lot of catharsis and empathy, and one that I hoped would develop in the viewer a sense of compassion and, we hope, the idea that we might look at one another in a different way.”
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The Guardian reports that Affleck described The Last Duel as “a film about someone who is denied justice, who goes to great lengths to seek justice at great risk to themselves”, pointing out that “Europe and countries colonised by Europe didn’t view women for many many centuries as human beings”.
He continued: “We felt that this was a story that could generate catharsis and empathy and, we hope, that we look at each other in a different way, to help us wonder whether our personal perspective may not take into consideration another person’s reality – their history, acculturation, education.”
Reuniting for their first collaborative screenplay since 1998’s Good Will Hunting (for which they won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay), Affleck and Damon admitted that because women were often dehumanised by European colonists in the timeframe the film takes place in, they were forced to creative liberties when it came to portraying certain events.
Damon said: “In the male-centred stories, women appear when the men need them for something; otherwise they are ignored. They are property, they are not human beings. At that time the men were very good at cataloging everything they did, but the women’s history was entirely invisible – so we all had to make a lot of that up.”
Back in July, Damon revealed that he and Affleck chose not write for the perspectives of female characters depicted in the film.
“It’s a story about perspective,” he said at the time, clarifying that “Ben and I wrote the male perspectives and [co-writer] Nicole Holofcener wrote the female perspective”.
The Last Duel – set for release in UK and US cinemas on October 15 – received largely positive reception following its Venice premiere, with press highlighting the action and cinematography, as well as the performances of Comer and Driver.
Take a look at some social reactions from the premiere below:
— Matt Neglia @TIFF (@NextBestPicture) September 10, 2021
Watching The Last Duel I kept thinking the filmmaking is goddamn impressive, with huge medieval action set pieces. And the final fight between Damon & Driver is seriously thrilling af! Then I reminded myself, oh right, this is Ridley Scott he definitely knows what he's doing. Ha. pic.twitter.com/gOWUNqwub9
— Alex Billington @ #TIFF21 (Virtually) (@firstshowing) September 10, 2021
two reactions from the last duel screening 👀 ”Adam Driver and Jodie Comer provided great performances” pic.twitter.com/ZZHmQENl1j
— 🌼 (@jodiespublicist) March 11, 2021