Skip to main content

The Duchess (2008)

The Duchess. Feature film. (2008, 110 mins) IMDB

...another English period piece based on real events...

I

came into to this film knowing nothing--my usual starting point. I clicked on its IMDB listing and saw it had won one Oscar and knew immediately what it was--costume design. I wasn't wrong. Another period piece from England complete with horses, candles, wigs, country estates and elaborate costumes. Lest we not forget people actually wore them, but then again people thought it was okay to enslave people.

It's 1774 in England. We get a glimpse into the lives of some of the top people of the country--the duke and duchess of Devonshire. We see nothing about the king or queen. Learn nothing about the servants or the everyday people except that they bow in the presence of the duke or duchess. The film is about this couple and a few people in their lives. If I recall correctly, none of the servants in their home says anything more then, "Your grace." This is not Upstairs, Downstairs.

The duke (Fiennes) meets with the mother of our hero of the story where they negotiate a marriage. He has everything he wants except an heir. With the marriage to the teenaged daughter, he'll get what he wants and within a few short strokes of the movie, we're off.

The daughter (Knightly) greets the news of her marriage with delight. It was a different time where marriage wasn't about love. (I suspected she'd protest, but didn't.) Marriage was about money and power. The duke had it. Her family had it. If the two married, it would stay in the family. The fact Georgina greets it with joy portends bad things to follow and I suppose that's one way of describing it.

The duke is a cold fish. He doesn't have a lot to say. He screws his wife in the hopes of getting an heir. He also screws some servants which does produce a child--Charlotte. The child is accepted into the home as an orphan and G takes care of her as if she were her mother. G gets a lesson in life.

Then G is pregnant. It's a girl. Disaster. While the duke isn't likeable, he isn't Henry VIII. The pressure is certainly on her.

Then we'll throw in a love interest for G. A Mr. Grey. They manage to get it on and she becomes pregnant. The duke tells her, her mother as well, to make a choice. Go off with Grey and live in poverty and never see your children, or, you can give up the child and stay here. She decides on the later. She goes away, has the child and gives it up to Grey's parents who raise it as if she were his sister. Such was the way.

There's clearly an attempt in this film to show the double standard of life for men and women. There's a scene where the duke is undressing the duchess and he asks her why women dress this way. Her reply: It's the only way women can show their creativity. They have no other options. They can't own property, they can't vote, what else can they do? Not much except produce babies and stay quiet.

She's not one to stay quite. Much is made of her notoriety except it doesn't comes across in the film. Not an easy thing to do but I suspect in a modern context she was probably as well known as Lady Diana.

There's the kicker. This film is based on real people. I thought it was fabricated like a Jane Austin novel, but nope. There was this duke and duchess and their love interests.

Posted 2009/05/08 at 20h41ET in Movie Commentary.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Day 5: Writing a Novel—The Deep Blue Hold

Monday, November 21st, 2016 No work on the novel on Day 4. Note: Unedited writings from my notebook for this novel. Square bracket items represent added comments.
At 18:31—Office ... if I use Leänne instead of Leanne how will people react... Y esterday was Sunday and I took it off, plus I was dealing with some mental health issues. I know this story is something that is simply a matter of putting in the time to make it happen. I’m supposed to be working on it as much as I can but I haven’t been doing that. Two main reasons. It’s been a while since I’ve worked on a story. Then there’s the issues of my mental health. Things happen. I get down and it impacts on my writing. I might be using it as an excuse, but it’s clearly something I need to deal with. I have to find a schedule I can work with. Perhaps I need to put this first and cut out other things. Not sure but I will figure it out. A name for the hero came to me. For the moment going with Leanne or is it Leanna? Should be Le…

Writing a Novel: The Deep Blue Hold–Introduction

Thursday, March 9th, 2017 ... I fight my insecurities and doubts and I withdraw farther away from people and life ... I n November 2016 I started work on a new novel with the working title: The Deep Blue Cage. A few weeks after I started, I stopped. I was feeling too depressed about everything including the idea of writing a new novel. It happens to me at various times, with varying degrees, and it is debilitating. The ultimate issue was: Why bother? Why bother write another novel no one will read and no one will care about. I also found I was dreading the writing process more and more. It was painful to think about. I walked away and focused on other things. Or tried to. That didn’t work either. I felt trapped and unsure where I should head, what I should do. I even asked the big question, what the hell is life about anyway. There’s no one answer to this question despite the proclamations of some and because I believe I can think critically, can reason, I look at it from many a…

Day 6: Writing a Novel—The Deep Blue Hold

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016 Note: Unedited writings from my notebook for this novel. Square bracket items represent added comments.
At 20:44—Office ... Lost at sea, she's rescued by a ship and wished she had never set foot on it.... N othing new on this story. Nothing came to me while I was sleeping or when on my errands. I thought something would come about, but nope. So be it. I have two chapters written. Not sure if they are any good but they are there. And so Chp. 3 to write. And I don’t see the scene because I’m not sure what should happen. The question is what is the cliffhanger. Nope. 3 about her, not the ship and crew. And I’ve already written the last line of the chapter. She wakes up and feels immense pain. Not sure if I should mention blood in the water. This chapter or the following. So it’s early dawn or not quite sunrise. And she’s in the cockpit unconscious. But how do I write it from her POV if she’s out. Hmmm. I can do it but should I do it? And I don’t w…