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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
3,404 ( 387)
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 ... 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:

The Duchess 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

Althorp Estate, Georgiana's childhood home (shown in the exterior shots of the foot race at the beginning of the film), was originally a red brick building. Red brick went out of style in the 1780's, at which point the entire building was altered with mathematical tile nailed onto the original red brick to give it its current gray exterior. At the time of Georgiana's marriage to the Duke in 1774, the building would still have been red brick as the architectural work started in 1788. The current Earl Spencer (Princess Diana's brother) had the mathematical tiles redone for a cool $8-9 million as many of the original nails used had rusted away, at which point the original red brick used for Althorp was also ruined. See more »

Quotes

Georgiana, The Duchess of Devonshire: There are limits to the sacrifices one makes for one's children.
Bess Foster: No, there aren't. No limits whatsoever.
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

Referenced in About a Boy: About Total Exuberance (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

 
Compelling and Layered Costume Drama
5 September 2008 | by milofromtheblockSee all my reviews

The Duchess is a superior slice of costume drama which manages to craft interesting, multi dimensional characters and an involving storyline from the well worn confines of the genre.

Keira Knightley plays a very similar role to the one she played in Pride and Prejudice, a feisty, modern woman trapped in a male dominated society. However, whereas Lizzie Bennett's heart and character inspires affection, the Duchess of Devonshire's fosters only reproach and punishment from her traditional and patriarchal husband. Her performance is a standout and demonstrates why she is so highly rated in the face of many disappointing roles in other films. She brings both strength and weakness to the character. Able to deliver withering put downs at her husband and others, whilst showing the pain of her loveless marriage etched into her face.

If Knightley is the lynchpin of the piece then it is Ralph Fiennes that elevates it above a crowded genre. Resisting the temptation to play his character as evil, instead he simply plays him as a man of his times. In Fiennes' hands the Duke feels no need to win any bouts of verbal jousting with his wife as he is secure in the knowledge that, as a husband, he is in complete control of the relationship. The Duke also clearly sees very little wrong in his treatment of his wife and acts, as he sees it, in a logic manner making the whole film feel more believable and, as a result, tragic.

In terms of the cast the only misstep is Dominic Cooper as Charles Grey, who lends the wide eyes of a political dreamer but doesn't have convincing chemistry with Knightley and plays one of the more one dimensional characters in the piece. However Hayley Atwell impresses by playing her character so well it is possible to describe her as scheming, and manipulative as well as sympathetic and loyal without it seeming a contradiction.

The film is deliberately paced so as to give characters and events time to breathe, encouraging the mood that the marriage is a car crash in slow motion, inextricably drawing all the characters further into the muddled mess of their relationships. Overall it's a fully recommended slice of real life costume drama that draws a multi layered drama full of compellingly deep characters from what could easily have been a one note story.


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