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The Duchess (2008)

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A chronicle of the life of 18th century aristocrat Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, who was reviled for her extravagant political and personal life.

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(screenplay), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 7 wins & 21 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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General Grey
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Heaton
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Dr. Neville
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Macaroni
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Sir James Hare
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Devonshire House Servant
Hannah Stokely ...
Devonshire House Maid
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Storyline

Georgiana Spencer became Duchess of Devonshire on her marriage to the Duke in 1774, at the height of the Georgian period, a period of fashion, decadence, and political change. Spirited and adored by the public at large she quickly found her marriage to be a disappointment, defined by her duty to produce a male heir and the Duke's philandering and callous indifference to her. She befriends Lady Bess but finds she is once again betrayed by her husband who wields his power with the three eventually living uncomfortably together. Against this background, and with the pressures of an unfaithful husband, strict social pressures and constant public scrutiny, Georgiana falls passionately in love with Charles Grey, a rising young Whig politician. However, despite his ongoing liaison with Lady Bess, the Duke refuses to allow her to continue the affair and threatens to take her children from her. Written by johnno.r[at]xtra.co.nz

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The scandal that shocked a nation. The courage that defined a woman. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sexual content, brief nudity and thematic material | See all certifications »

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Details

Official Sites:

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Release Date:

10 October 2008 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La duquesa  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

£13,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£1,402,200 (UK) (7 September 2008)

Gross:

$13,823,741 (USA) (7 December 2008)
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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Costume designer Michael O'Connor based the blue "Fox uniform" ensemble worn by Keira Knightley in the whig political rally scene on portraits and political cartoons of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, that were made in the late 18th century. See more »

Goofs

At the beginning of the film when Georgiana is talking with her mother about her engagement, the curl running down the back of Georgiana's neck disappears and reappears multiple times. See more »

Quotes

Georgiana, The Duchess of Devonshire: [to a crowd of her adoring public at Bath regaled with a large plume on her hat] We come away to Bath to get away from London, and all of London has come away to Bath.
[laughter from the audience]
Georgiana, The Duchess of Devonshire: Somebody did indeed ask me what kind of feather it is I'm wearing. Well, there are only two specimins of this rare bird known to man. One of them has clearly ended up on top of my head, and the other - rumor has it he's running for office in the Tory Party.
[More laughter]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Tormented (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Adagio from String Quartet Opus 1 No. 3 in D Major
Written by Joseph Haydn
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Good story. Interesting and mostly believable in presentation.
1 January 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The Duchess - Set at the end of the eighteenth century, The Duchess is based on the life of Georgiana Cavendish (Kiera Knightley), Duchess of Devonshire. The film delves into Georgiana's passionate and doomed affair with Earl Grey, the future Prime Minister, and the complex love triangle with her husband (Ralph Fiennes) and Georgiana's best friend, Lady Bess Foster (Hayley Atwell).

Kiera Knightley again does a period piece and again looks mostly out of place. She's British alright, but a few stone away from looking like she belongs in 1770's Britain. It's augmented by the fact that her character, based on a real woman, was supposed to have gone through about 6 pregnancies, 4 of them successful. Knightley's emaciated form is just wrong. What is right though, is her performance. As a mother, as a chasismatic political presence and a woman desperate for a happy life she nails it absolutely.

I could have seen a little less focus on the love triangle and a little more on the "hows" and "whys" of this woman becoming such an important and popular cultural icon in British society. The film glosses over how this came to be, and asks us to take it as a fact after one brief scene showing the Duchess's political shrewdness. It's another case of Hollywood ignoring what's different about a film, preferring the safety of delivering what people have seen before.

Fiennes gives such a quiet performance right from the start but it grows and fills the area. It's often a mesmerizing performance because of his rigid adherence to societies expectations and rules at the cost of all else. Fiennes occupies the screen whenever he's in a scene. When he and the Duchess argue, she's like water smashing up against the unyielding cliff. Ralph Fiennes is aw-inspiringly scary in one scene without seeming in anyway over the top or demonizing of what his character represents. Ultimately his character is human and believable; purely a man of his times. His character is so down to earth and in the end simple. All he wanted from his marriage was a son and to be left alone to play with his dogs.

A mesmerizing turn from Fiennes in a likable, if familiar film, The Duchess gets a B+


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