The Last Duel – Harry Gregson-Williams

I have apparently missed Ridley Scott’s latest movie, The Last Duel, in the theaters, since as I am writing this, it is no longer playing anywhere in my town. What triggered my interest in this movie, is the fact that Harry Gregson-Williams was tasked with writing the music for it. Scott and Gregson-Williams have collaborated on quite a few movies, resulting in Gregson-Williams’ brilliant music for Kingdom of Heaven and The Martian, making me quite curious about their latest collaboration.

I was quite surprised by the musical style of this score, because the music is completely different from what I was expecting. Being a Gregson-Williams score for a historical movie by Scott, I was expecting an epic orchestral score. Admittedly, there are some orchestral elements and choir parts to be found, but most of the music is quite timid and emotional, with a large focus on cues with just medieval instruments and chants.

The movie is about a conflict between two noblemen fighting over a lady and Gregson-Williams has created themes for these three characters. In “Jean de Carrouges” you can hear the theme for the first nobleman. It is a gorgeous orchestral piece with choir support, and it portrays Jean as an important person with good intentions. In ”Jacques LeGris” you can hear the opposite, with unnerving sounds, howls, a lot of percussion and an ominous melody on a single medieval string instrument.

The third theme is for the lady Marguerite de Carrouges and it is the most important theme, since it can be heard throughout the whole score. The foundation of it can be heard in the song “Celui Que Je Désire,” performed by Grace Davidson. I am often not fond of songs for a movie, but there are exceptions to this rule, and this is clearly one of those for me. In the track “Marguerite de Carrouges” you can hear how the theme works in the movie: Her theme is featured at the start, before it transitions into the theme for Jean. “The Aftermath” also includes a wonderful variation of the song’s melody.

After listening to the album, I regret not seeing this movie in the theater. If you think about duels and medieval times, you think about fighting, clashing swords and a lot of manly adrenaline, but the music does not reflect that at all. Instead, the music is more about tension, emotion and drama. The track “The Duel”’ is a perfect example of what I mean. You can hear everything surrounding the duel, except for the duel itself, and after listening to the music I want to know what is happening in that specific scene. That is what I love about film music. Most of the time I want to listen to a soundtrack after watching the movie, and this time, it is the other way around. I want to see the images after listening to the score, and that can be seen as a huge compliment to Harry Gregson-Williams.

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The highlights are in bold.

  1. Duel Preparations (3:36)
  2. Leaving For Scotland (2:42)
  3. Marguerite de Carrouges (2:18)
  4. Returning Home (1:14)
  5. Jean de Carrouges (1:18)
  6. Managing The Estate (2:23)
  7. Court of King Charles (0:55)
  8. The Wolves (2:33)
  9. Confrontation (0:37)
  10. Jacques LeGris (1:13)
  11. I’ve Never Seen You Like This (1:12)
  12. Confession (2:16)
  13. I Offer You A Name (3:28)
  14. House Meeting (0:58)
  15. Chapter 3 (1:11)
  16. Left Alone (1:17)
  17. Forgive Me For Intruding (1:27)
  18. Tell No One (2:28)
  19. The Duel (5:12)
  20. The Aftermath (3:08)
  21. Celui que je désire (3:49)

Total length: 45 minutes
Hollywood Records (2021)

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