period: The Last Duel

The Last Duel

The Last Duel is an historical drama film set in medieval France where Jean de Carrouges challenges his former friend Jacques Le Gris to a judicial duel after Jean’s wife, Marguerite (Jodie Comer), accuses Le Gris of raping her.

The French Parlement unable to determine the guilt in the case declared that the two men would fight a duel to the death on 27 November 1386 (though it was delayed until 29 December 1386 because of the Kings absence). Marguerite watched the duel with more than her honour at stake: should her husband lose the battle, she would be burnt at the stake having been thus ‘proven’ guilty of perjury by its outcome.

Part of the film covers the relationship between Marguerite and her Mother-in-Law, Nicole de Carrouges (Harriet Walter), who despite their differences share common experiences.

Due to the controversy and celebrity surrounding the case, the duel between Carrouges and Le Gris soon attracted near-legendary status and was the last ever judicial duel permitted by the French government. The memory of the duel far outlasted its participants, primarily a result of it being recorded soon after by the contemporary chronicler Jean Froissart.

The historical Jean de Carrouges was in his forties when he married the ‘young, beautiful, good, sensible and modest’ Marguerite de Thibouville.

The makeup

Matteo Silvi was the makeup designer; Luca Vannella was the hair designer; Daniel Lawson Johnston was the key makeup artist.

Conor O’Sullivan was the prosthetic designer; Robert Trenton was the prosthetics supervisor.

Matteo Silvi and Luca Vannella discussed the vey different looks of Marguerite de Carrouges and Nicole de Carrouges:  Silvi worked closely with Ridley Scott to ensure Comer’s skin appeared natural and glowing. The idea was to keep Marguerite very simple, young, and beautiful, Silvi said, because her character didn’t abide by the aristocratic rules many others did; Nicole, on the other hand, was the kind of fourteenth-century woman to follow the trends of the time when fair, even translucent, skin was held with high esteem while most women preferred to be virtually hairless, which meant no eyebrows and plucked hairlines. According to Silvi, they were inspired by Rogier van der Weyden's ‘Portrait of a Lady’ to create Nicole’s look, which featured a bald cap, prosthetics, eyebrow blockers, and even a faux blue vein, which was added to her forehead.

Whatever, I found the differences in looks beyond generational: rather they looked like characters from two different filmsets. My interpretation is that Ridley Scott wanted both historical accuracy and to keep Jodie Comer young and beautiful – in a modern way – which were ultimately incompatible.