December 9, 2021


Only The Finest Women

Why the movie made Matt Damon look so awful.

In the 12th century, the usually-cranky English monk, historian, and portion-time trend critic Orderic Vitalis issued two laments about the hairstyles of elite Norman noblemen. One particular established, he moaned, “parted their hair from the crown of the head to the brow, grew long and deluxe locks like women of all ages.” The other folks, Vitalis groaned, “shave the front aspect of their head, like intruders, and permit their hair expand very long in the again, like harlots.” In other phrases, Vitalis would have hated The Final Duel.

The Last Duel is a tale of male violence towards girls and versus just one yet another, drawn from a historic celebration that highlighted a judicial trial by battle in excess of an allegation manufactured by a knight, Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon), that the squire Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) experienced raped Jean’s spouse, Marguerite de Thibouville (Jodie Comer). This is serious things, but some individuals online have not been equipped to keep back again a giggle at the men’s hairstyles—especially Damon’s mullet.

We’ve presently covered a number of vital approaches that the motion picture engages with and deviates from our fairly copious history of the party in medieval sources. But each individual film established in the Center Ages has to make all forms of decisions about portraying a entire world hundreds of years in the past, and this one particular engaged in a challenging mixing of medieval, modern, and a little something in concerning for the men’s hair, specially Damon’s. This work to use hair to define status and character, especially the hair of the male protagonists, actually does have an crucial medieval basis: Not just the whiny Orderic Vitalis but a lot of persons in the Middle Ages had been obsessed with hairstyles and what they may possibly mean. In The Final Duel, the leads go to two extremes. We get just one libertine, with lengthy, very alluring, wavy locks, and a person person who seems at the exact same time equally austere and uncouth, with a mullet.

Adam Driver plays Jacques Le Gris, a squire who indulged in the art of seduction by recourse to Latin double-entendre, taken from manuals on courtly adore. From a medieval viewpoint, the character’s extensive hair properly displays his fascination in dalliances with the fair sexual intercourse and in social climbing. Traditionally, by the time the demo by fight took place, Jacques was already around 50 and no for a longer time, at minimum according to his attorneys, up for amorous adventures and able to have interaction in midnight orgies with the nearby depend, but The Past Duel keeps the character younger and virile.

Adam Driver in the film with long hair and a goatee. An inset image shows a historic depiction of a knight with wavy hair to his neck and a beard.
Adam Driver as Jacques Le Gris element from a miniature of a dialogue involving a clerk and a knight, Grasp of the Bible of Jean de Sy, 1378, France. 
Photos by 20th Century Studios and the British Library.

Inspite of a very long custom of the most potent adult men cultivating luscious extensive locks in the Center Ages, some persons, especially churchmen or the additional moralistic sort of secular authorities, fearful that prolonged hair for men meant issues. Many biblical precepts they clung to declared that guys will have to appear like men, and gals glance like women of all ages. St. Paul, in Corinthians 11:14, for instance, declares, “If a man has extended hair, it is a disgrace to him.” A woman’s extended hair, meanwhile, “is her glory.” Extensive hair in ladies, amongst the time when Paul wrote and the time of The Final Duel, was a significant marker of variation. Something that blurred this difference, that manufactured men glimpse like gals, risked gender-bending, building gals of men.

But whilst, in the eyes of some, lengthy hair made gentlemen appear a little bit much too significantly like females, and thus lascivious, it was nevertheless even now broadly common and coveted. As with every thing, what medieval norms proposed and what individuals really did and considered are not the exact (no extra so than nowadays). This was specially genuine among the the male nobility—who had been, it will have to be stated, typically fond of flouting the rules that some overly stringent monks fruitlessly sought to impose on them.

Mullets arrived in for additional abuse in some sites and occasions in the Center Ages, specially when and exactly where they were being associated with Irish males. In 1297, the British Parliament condemned “the degenerate English of modern day situations who put on Irish garments, have their heads 50 {3a94529b2b68d99beac25dca5c1678936e723415472492fb18744b4f77d809a2} shaved and increase their hair very long at the back, calling this culan, earning on their own like the Irish in outfits and physical appearance.” (The phrase culan arrived from the Old Irish term cul, which intended “back of the head.”) As historian Robert Bartlett explains, the adoption of this hairstyle amongst English settlers in Eire produced it difficult to inform them aside from the Irish inhabitants, and this just would not do: “Englishmen were being remaining mistaken for Irishmen and killed as Irishmen, even while the killing of an Englishman and the killing of an Irishman expected fairly various punishments.”

Matt Damon’s Jean de Carrouges has what appears to our fashionable eyes indisputably like a mullet, sides shaved, beard ever more scraggly as the film wears on. This looks anachronistic, but, as Bartlett factors out, and the observations of Orderic Vitalis make clear, there are unquestionably some medieval precursors. Even so, the hairstyle is seemingly a great deal additional out of put among Norman French courtiers of the 14th century than the very long and excessively female locks of a Le Gris variety. But, in producing Carrouges look so unfashionable, the movie could be intending to demonstrate nevertheless all over again how out of touch he was with his fellow Norman courtiers, his hair a seen indication of why he could not healthy in with the in-crowd of Pierre, the Count of Alençon.

But then again, Count Pierre (Ben Affleck) has small hair. This could basically, after once again, be rather accurate, in that kings, from the eighth-century monarch Charlemagne on, generally favored shorter hair than their topics, as a way to even further demarcate social distinctions. As Pierre was a really significant lord, and a person who was related to the king, Affleck’s hairstyle could be sending that variety of sign about his standing. Surely, the movie’s King Charles VI wears his hair near-cropped (nevertheless visuals of the historic king tend to give him marginally extended hair, for what it is worthy of).

Of program, the film does have a feminine guide indeed, the film is framed as getting “her story.” Her hair is perfect: a fairy-princess eyesight of medieval nobility that retains true to the suitable of female natural beauty in the resources. In the movie, Marguerite’s wonderful hair moves from the absolutely free flowing or loosely braided locks of a girl to the flawless bejeweled crown of braids of a noble wife. Her hair correctly expresses the perfect of medieval female magnificence, extended and blond, reflecting at the very same time the difficulty of hair for women in the Middle Ages and the early present day period of time. The religious teachings of the time, and the society’s ethical code, stressed modesty for women, who really should address their hair, particularly in church. At the same time, they were not meant to consider to be attractive, but were, however, intended to be stunning to catch the attention of and maintain husbands they need to be at at the time pure and virginal, and an object of motivation. The actress Jodie Comer’s blond hair, bound in jewel-studded proto-Leia buns on either facet of her head, sends that signal perfectly.

An image for Jodie Comer from the movie with two blond braids with jewels in them wrapped in buns on each side of her head. An inset image shows a historical depiction of Queen Guinevere wearing a crown and hair on each side of her head.
Jodie Comer as Marguerite de Thibouville element from a miniature of the Damsel of Hungerford with Arthur and Guinevere, attributed to the Master au menton Guyana, to start with quarter of the 14th century. 
Shots by 20th Century Studios and the British Library

And so, to return to the problem: “Is the hair in The Very last Duel accurate?” We give the filmmakers a stringent B-in addition on the deserves but a grade-inflated A, mainly because it is so exciting to believe of the lengthy-absent Orderic Vitalis searching down from heaven and by some means catching sight of Matt Damon’s culan. A harlot and a thief, in one! What a cut price.