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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.

Director:

Saul Dibb

Writers:

Jeffrey Hatcher (screenplay), Anders Thomas Jensen (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Popularity
2,609 ( 26)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 7 wins & 21 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Keira Knightley ... Georgiana
Ralph Fiennes ... The Duke
Charlotte Rampling ... Lady Spencer
Dominic Cooper ... Charles Grey
Hayley Atwell ... Bess Foster
Simon McBurney ... Charles Fox
Aidan McArdle ... Richard Sheridan
John Shrapnel ... General Grey
Alistair Petrie ... Heaton
Patrick Godfrey ... Dr. Neville
Michael Medwin ... Speechmaker
Justin Edwards ... Macaroni
Richard McCabe Richard McCabe ... Sir James Hare
Calvin A. Dean Calvin A. Dean ... Devonshire House Servant (as Calvin Dean)
Hannah Stokely 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 »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site | Official site [Japan] | See more »

Country:

UK | Italy | France | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 October 2008 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La duquesa See more »

Filming Locations:

Bath, Somerset, England, UK See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

£13,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£1,402,200 (United Kingdom), 7 September 2008, Limited Release

Opening Weekend USA:

$190,426, 21 September 2008, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$13,823,741, 7 December 2008

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$43,306,325, 20 September 2009
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | DTS | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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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

Dinner guest: Excellent speech, Mr. Fox.
Charles Fox: I think it is always easier to address a congregation of friends... particularly when those friends are drunk.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Paramount Vantage preferred a PG-13 version for the United States and in order to get that rating some cuts and alternate shots were used. See more »

Connections

Featured in The Orange British Academy Film Awards (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Gigue from Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major
Written by Johann Sebastian Bach
Arranged by Rick Wentworth
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Good story. Interesting and mostly believable in presentation.
1 January 2009 | by joestank15See 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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