Knights and Consent: Ridley Scott’s “Last Duel”

(AFP) – Legendary director of “Alien”, “Blade Runner” or “Gladiator”, Ridley Scott indulged in an experience: mixing the ultra-masculine universe of the film of chivalry and the questioning of consent. The result, “The Last Duel”, hits theaters Wednesday.

In the film, loosely based on events that took place in medieval France, in 1386, two knights engage in a judicial duel after one, Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon, who sports a surprising mule cut ), accused the other, Jacques le Gris (Adam Driver, Kylo Ren in “Star Wars”), of having raped his wife, Marguerite de Carrouges (Jodie Comer).

“The Last Duel” (2H33) was written by the duo Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, who made a name for themselves a quarter of a century ago with “Will Hunting”, a project they had already co-written and which Gus Van Sant had realized.

A sign of the times in a sector that wants to reflect on gender equality and its propensity to perpetuate stereotypes, they enlisted the services of a screenwriter, Nicole Holofcener, as did the writers of the last James Bond. , with feminist co-writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

For director Ridley Scott, “anything that can strike a chord can help, little by little” to advance ideas of equality. And if the message escapes the spectators “you just have to go on and try again and again”.

“It is clear that this kind of films”, intended for a very large audience, “will have an effect”, he assured AFP during the presentation of the film in Venice. Beyond the action scenes and the big show, “there are a lot of subtleties in it, and you have to be very careful.”

Because between two action scenes as Ridley Scott adores them, the film aims, at the risk of anachronism, to present the same facts from three successive points of view, that of the two knights, then from the female point of view (entitled ” the truth”).

– Rides and patriarchy –

The figure of the valiant knight is mocked there, the characters of Matt Damon and Adam Driver being presented as boors, considering women only for the value or prestige they can bring them, and ignoring the consent of their partner in their sexual intercourse – let alone their pleasure.

Marguerite de Carrouges will rebel against the patriarchy and decide to publicly denounce her rape. It is her husband who will bring the case to royal justice – but above all to wash away the affront to her name, and not out of consideration for the victim.

Nourished by scenes of rides or sword fights, “the film is very spectacular and epic, but at the heart of it all, there is the human story of this woman,” Jodie Comer told AFP .

“In my opinion, feminism is neither a radical idea nor a new idea,” replied Ben Affleck. “I think any human person with empathy and reason should be a feminist.”

Big name of Hollywood, Ridley Scott underlines for his part having “always worked for the idea of ​​(representing) very strong women”: Sigourney Weaver whose career was launched in 1978 with the role of Lieutenant Ellen Ripley in “Alien “,” Thelma and Louise “,” On equal terms “with Demi Moore and a woman’s fight to integrate elite units of the US Army,” a bastion of male domination “…

He may soon have another opportunity to prove it: Ridley Scott will once again hit screens on November 24 with a highly anticipated project, “House of Gucci”, behind the scenes of the Italian designer family, with Lady Gaga, Al Pacino, Jared Leto, Adam Driver, or the French Camille Cottin.