A new film from Ridley Scott is always going to turn some heads…
After all, this is the man who gave audiences such classics as Blade Runner, Alien, Gladiator, and American Gangster.
He’s navigated a wealth of genres with the utmost success throughout his career but in 2021 he has delivered some compelling dramas inspired by real life. The most recent – House of Gucci – is entertaining cinemas viewers as of late, but his previous feature is set to make waves very soon on Disney+.
Looking at the historical epic, it’s worth drawing parallels between the narrative and the truth. So, let’s look at the true story behind The Last Duel.
WARNING: SPOILERS FOR THE LAST DUEL
The true story of The Last Duel
Ridley’s The Last Duel is based on the 2004 book The Last Duel: A True Story of Trial by Combat in Medieval France by Eric Jager.
As the book also explores, the film dramatically depicts the last officially recognized judicial duel fought in France
Discussing what really happened, we’re whisked back to December 29th 1386, when Norman knight Jean de Carrouges fought Jacques Le Gris in combat. The knight challenged Jacques after accusing him of raping his wife, Marguerite de Carrouges, née de Thibouville.
Horrified by the claims, Jean sought the permission of King Charles VI to duel the accused. Jean had his suspicions that the negative decision announced by Count Pierre d’Alençon was the result of bias in favour of Jacques.
However, the duel was later officially granted and the rules were simple: whoever lived won.
It’s believed that the winner would have determined God’s will, so if Jean had lost then his wife would have met a particularly grisly fate, burned at the stake under the belief that she had lied about the accusation.
Jean de Carrouges won and the duel has since been spoken about throughout the centuries. Indeed, historians and so forth continued to discuss and debate whether Jacques Le Gris was guilty of the crime or not.
What happened before the accusation?
At the start we find Jean having fallen out with Count Pierre, who prefers Jacques Le Gris.
Jean marries Marguerite, who despite her wealth has a rather ill reputation. However, Jean was seeking out wealth, an heir, and more, so the idea of marrying her presented fortunate opportunities.
Due to land ownership troubles, the marriage also facilitated further drama between Jacques and Jean, while Jacques’s reputation with the Count continued to strengthen.
Later, the pair set aside their differences, and Jean introduced the other to his wife, and in real life, Jean’s campaign gave him a better image in the eyes of the Count. However, the film doubles down on him being the second fiddle to Jacques.
Marguerite is left alone when Jean goes to Paris and Jacques uses the opportunity to confess his feelings for her. When she refuses, he rapes her, according to her account and what the film presents as “the truth”, as noted by Digital Spy.
Could we see an extended cut?
While in conversation on the ReelBlend Podcast, Ridley was asked about the potential for House of Gucci and The Last Duel extended cuts:
“What goes out tends to be the film and I’m pretty responsible I know I’m not going to say it’s going to be four hours like there’s already two and a half plus which is long but I think I’m very aware of the bombing factor, you’ve got to watch that audiences aren’t getting out, ‘Jesus, this is too long.’”
However, he added: “So I’m aware of that as well. But I think things do play better at home because you will pause it, get a beer, and come back. So I will probably do a director’s cut, yeah. A long cut. But it won’t be a director’s cut. It’d be a long cut.”
Here’s to hoping!