We’re still in the grips of a pandemic, but one thing that I am so happy most of us can do now, through the availability of masks and vaccinations, is going to a movie theater. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea (even if I can’t understand that in my film-major heart), but there is just something about seeing the latest blockbusters and award contenders on a larger-than-life screen.
That to say I had a really nice night taking my dad to see Ridley Scott’s latest feminist medieval drama: The Last Duel. It’s very well done except Dad said it was too long, and (minor spoiler alert) I saw the most egregious fake knitting in my recent memory.
Allow me to set the scene: Marguerite de Carrouges (played by Jodie Comer) is running the family estate in her (inept) husband’s absence. She enjoys the work, but things are a bit precarious because in her years of marriage to her much older husband, she has not yet been able to bear a child. As this is the medieval times, this is seen as a moral failing solely on her part. Her mother-in-law (portrayed by Harriet Walter) expresses her distaste by knitting baby clothes in front of her.
That’s a whole level of passive/aggressiveness that the filmmakers felt truly emphasized that ugly societal pressure on women of the day. It would have been great if they had at least googled what knitting may have looked like in the 1300s. Someone must’ve realized this at some point, because there is no photographic evidence currently online.
First, as she pulls the project out, I audibly groaned. The ball of yarn was machine wound; perfect and straight from a big box craft store. Like, I’m not completely unreasonable. I know you’re likely not going to take the time hunting down handspun yarn for your medieval drama, but at least take the time to wind your commercially-spun yarn by hand. Such an easy fix for a very noticeable anachronism.
Second, it was a knit baby bonnet… on a crochet hook. Truth be told, credit to Walter’s performance, I was distracted from that while she wound the yarn around her fingers for tension. That looked believable. Sorely disappointed when, right after, they cut to live stitches lined up on a (probably aluminum) crochet hook, like she was about to knit.
Third, even if they went with the proper craft for the tool they had, crochet wasn’t invented until the 1800s… literally 500 years after this movie was set. Again, a quick google search would have solved that pretty quickly.
Finally, the thing that makes this truly egregious, this was a major plot point in Marguerite’s telling of the course of events that lead to the titular “Last Duel.” As I said before, it was a pointed, cruel way to show what society thought of her as a “barren” woman. However, not one person on this crew bothered to double-check that it was even a little correct. This often comes across, especially in movies where it’s less important to the plot, that it’s “woman’s work,” and therefore not important. They’re making this point in a film intended to shine a light on the injustice women have had to endure for centuries. Pretty counterintuitive, wouldn’t you say?
Now, it is “just a movie,” but I’d argue depictions like this are important. We take them away when the lights come back up in the theater. All said, if you have the emotional capacity for it, the film is generally well made and worth a watch if medieval duels are your jam.