The Last Duel, the medieval-set drama directed by Ridley Scott, is a feminist movie, according to Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, its stars and co-writers.
Speaking at a press conference at the Venice film festival shortly before the film’s world premiere, the pair were keen to present their feminist credentials and the relevance of The Last Duel to the MeToo movement.
Saying that he considered himself a feminist, 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”. 他加了: “It is about this incredible woman from history who spoke out against a man who assaulted her, so naturally that seemed relevant [to MeToo].”
The Last Duel is adapted from a 2004 book by Eric Jager about the last recorded trial by combat in French history, which took place in 1386 between Jean de Carrouges and Jacques Le Gris, after Le Gris was accused of raping Carrouges’ wife Marguerite. Damon plays Carrouges and Adam Driver Le Gris, while Affleck is feudal overlord Count Pierre d’Alençon and Jodie Comer is Marguerite. Affleck and Damon also acted as producers on the project alongside Scott and co-writer Nicole Holofcener.
Adding that “Europe and countries colonised by Europe didn’t view women for many many centuries as human beings,” Affleck added: “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.”
The film takes offers three different versions of the same central event, the rape of Marguerite by Le Gris, viewed through different perspectives – two male, and one female – in the same manner as Akira Kurosawa’s 1950 classic Rashomon. Affleck and Damon reunited to work on the script for the first time since jointly winning the best original screenplay Oscar in 1998 for Good Will Hunting.
Damon outlined the difficulties they had faced as writers. “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.” He added: “At that time the men were very good at cataloguing everything they did, but the women’s history was entirely invisible – so we all had to make a lot of that up.”
Holofcener, best known for writing low-key indie movies such as Lovely & Amazing and Friends With Money, was brought in to write the section with the female perspective. ”[Affleck and Damon] needed a real woman to write Marguerite’s character. They were wise not to attempt it, though I am sure they would have done a great job.”
她补充说: “Of course we were all aware of the MeToo movement, and how similar the experience this woman went through was.”
Affleck said: “The great illusion of chivalry was that while it was about protecting the innocent female, it was in fact a code that denied women’s basic humanity.” Alluding to Scott he said: “The irony is not lost on me that it’s a movie made by a knight.”