On Right on Cue, Editor-in-Chief Clint Worthington talks to film, TV, and video game composers about the origins and nuances of their latest works, along with commentaries on the score’s most important tracks.
Grammy and Golden Globe-nominated composer Harry Gregson-Williams is no stranger to director Ridley Scott: First working with his brother, the late Tony Scott, on films like Enemy of the State and Spy Game, Gregson-Williams began working with Ridley on Kingdom of Heaven and has scored several other films with him since (including his sprawling score for The Martian).
But his latest score — one of two with Ridley this year; he’ll be providing the music for House of Gucci in a couple months’ time — takes them from the Red Planet to 14th-century France in The Last Duel, which is currently in theaters this weekend. Telling the story of the last true royally-sanctioned duel in medieval French history, Scott’s latest is a Rashomon-like fable that flits between the perspectives of the three people involved: brutish knight Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon), libertine squire Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver), and Jean’s wife Marguerite (Jodie Comer), whose alleged rape by Le Gris brings the two former friends to blows.
While the score taps into the big, spectacular motions we’d expect from the director of Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven, Gregson-Williams’ approach plays with perspective in much the same way the film does. Themes overlap and warp depending on who’s telling the story at any given moment, and certain scenes are scored in vastly different ways as we see them through new eyes. The medieval musical trappings are there, from countertenor voices to Gregorian chant evocative of the Catholic Church, whose reach informs much of the film’s drama. But they also shake things up with guitar, taiko drum, and a host of other unconventional instruments that hone in on The Last Duel‘s intriguing streak of modernity — a sharp reminder that the shame and pressure Marguerite experiences as a result of her speaking out against her rapist is hardly the stuff of history.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Gregson-Williams to talk about the unconventional modes of The Last Duel‘s score, his long working relationship with Ridley Scott, and what we might be able to look forward to in House of Gucci.
The Last Duel is currently playing in theaters, and Harry Gregson-Williams’ soundtrack is available on your preferred music streaming service courtesy of 20th Century Studios.