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The Duchess (2008)

Ralph Fiennes , Simon McBurney , Saul Dibb  |  PG-13 |  DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (374 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Ralph Fiennes, Simon McBurney, Charlotte Rampling, John Shrapnel, Dominic Cooper
  • Directors: Saul Dibb
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: December 27, 2008
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (374 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001L57ZZG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,776 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Duchess" on IMDb

Special Features

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Swaddled in whalebone and wigs, Keira Knightley steps into the restricted world of the Duchess of Devonshire, a royal lady popular with her subjects but stuck in an unhappy marriage. If this situation recalls Princess Diana (a descendent of the Duchess's family), so much the better for the purposes of director Saul Dibb and company; this film is eager to draw parallels with the unfortunate Lady Di, even if she is never directly mentioned. Knightley's unsuspecting girl is married off to the Duke (Ralph Fiennes), a distracted jerk who craves sons, and obviously has never thought of women as anything other than a means to achieve an heir. When the Duchess launches her procreative career with a couple of daughters, well, the Duke begins to get nervous--and partners outside the marriage become increasingly appealing. The Duchess serves up lavish portions of Brit-movie staples: costumes (which, in Knightley's case, are nothing short of spectacular), landscapes, and gorgeous music (by Rachel Portman). If it falls short in some vague way, perhaps it's because the film is a mostly one-note affair, meaning exactly what it seems to mean at every moment. Charlotte Rampling appears too briefly as Knightley's mother, and Dominic Cooper and Hayley Atwell (from Brideshead Revisited), rising stars both, contribute attractive lures for the principals. They prove the old movie adage: there's a lot to be said for eye candy. --Robert Horton




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Product Description

A film that chronicles the life of 18th century aristocrat Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, an ancestor of Princess Di.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
214 of 219 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lavish, Entertaining Period Drama November 30, 2008
Format:DVD
"The Duchess" is a wonderful costume drama based on the life of Princess Diana's ancestor Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire, who was celebrated and scandalous in her time, which was late 18th century England.

Georgiana was given in an arranged marriage to the Duke of Devonshire (a wonderful performance by Ralph Fiennes), who had only met her twice previously. The Duke is desperate for a male heir, and soon, Georgiana soon finds herself in a loveless marriage and the mother of three girls - two born of Georgiana and one born of a maid who had an affair with Devonshire. Even after bearing the indignities of her husband constant affairs, Georgiana becomes a darling of English society, known for her fashion sense, political activism, and love of gambling.

But Georgiana draws the line, or tries to draw the line, when Devonshire takes a live-in lover and her three children. She eventually begins an affair with a young politician that threatens her way of life.

The film paints an appropriately bleak picture of what it was like for a woman in those days. Georgiana is a beautiful, intelligent, and charming young woman whose only hope in life is that she happens to marry someone who loves her and will treat her like a human being. As it turns out, Devonshire becomes increasingly unlikeable as he expects Georgiana to abide by his affairs, then sit in silence as he keeps another woman and her children under their roof, and not just any woman, but one that had become a good friend of Georgiana.

The movie is beautifully filmed and the performances are very good. The story tells a compelling story of a woman trapped by her times and circumstances and forced to make terrible choices.
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79 of 81 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A well-done period drama. December 7, 2008
Format:DVD
A lot of people think of British period drama as stuffy and boring, a reputation it occasionally does something to deserve, but history is anything but dull, and if you were under the impression that the past was a place of strong moral values and happy marriages that has given way to our current immoral society full of single parents and extramarital affairs, think again. Consider the subject of the life of Georgiana Spenser Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire (Keira Knightley).

Married young by her mother (Charlotte Rampling, in a wonderfully controlled performance) to William Cavendish, Duke of Devonshire (Ralph Fiennes), the foremost peer of the realm, she finds quickly that her husband (who she met only twice beforehand) is a cold and distant fellow who is only interested in a male heir. Already tasked to mother his bastard daughter Charlotte, she gives birth to two daughters, to the disgust of the Duke, who has a series of mistresses that she tolerates. The Duchess becomes a social marvel, hobnobbing with Whig politicians like Charles James Fox (Simon McBurney) and Charles Grey (Dominic Cooper, later 2nd Earl Grey and Prime Minister) and politician/esteemed playwright Richard Sheridan (Aidan McArdle), whose "School for Scandal" was based heavily on the Cavendishes' marriage. She eventually finds a close friend in Lady Elizabeth (Bess) Foster (Hayley Atwell), and invites her to live with them, which turns out to have dangerous consequences when the Duke initiates an affair with her, and refuses to expel her. She then finds herself living in a forced menage a trois (subtle humour found in the three of them eating silent breakfasts together). Understandably, she finds herself increasingly drawn to Grey.
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66 of 72 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "The Duke of Devonshire, he loves me?" December 4, 2008
Format:DVD
A sad testament to the rigors of 18th century English society and women's roles, The Duchess tells the story of Georgiana Spencer (Keira Knightly) and her marriage to the older Duke of Devonshire (Ralph Fiennes). The product of a society that relegates women to window dressing and child-bearing, at sixteen Georgiana is filled with romantic notions and little information about the demands of marriage. Frolicking with her companions on the lawn of her family's estate- including future prime minister and lover Charles Grey (Dominic Cooper) - Georgiana is thrilled to learn of a marriage proposal by the impressive Duke of Devonshire. All the duke requires is a male heir and his bride-to-be is certainly capable of fulfilling her husband's demands. On the pointed advice of her mother (an intimidating Charlotte Rampling), Georgiana casts her self into the role of wife, quickly disabused of any frivolous romantic notions on her wedding night. Unfortunately, Georgiana bears the duke three girls, her husband increasingly chagrined and ill-tempered as his wife disappoints him with the birth of each new daughter.

Stoic and rigid when it comes to his wife, Fiennes plays the distant husband to perfection, indulging in extra-marital affairs and ignoring his wife's obvious suffering when she discovers his penchant for callous infidelity. Georgiana responds as best she can, given the restraints of society, becoming the darling of the social set, charming and witty, a trendsetter who captivates the imaginations of those who enjoy her company, male and female. One admirer is Whig party leader Charles Fox, but there are many. Georgiana is a skillful raconteur regardless of her deep disappointment with marriage.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars I'm so glad that this kind of thing never happens today
I'm so glad that this kind of thing never happens today. I mean I've never known a guy who has two women, and tries to make it work with both of them. Read more
Published 37 minutes ago by P. Rogers
4.0 out of 5 stars I liked it a lot, but I simply couldn't watch the Duchess destroy...
I cannot believe that the Duchess wasn't well enough read to realize all of the mistakes she was making throughout this movie. Read more
Published 18 hours ago by Frogfish
5.0 out of 5 stars ... or enough about this movie except it was a wonderful experience....
I cannot say any more or enough about this movie except it was a wonderful experience. Cheers to everyone involved in it's making.
Published 20 hours ago by iprazhm
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Watch!
Great Movie! Love Kiera Knightly.....recommend this to history buffs!
Published 20 hours ago by Candy
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
One of my favorite movies!
Published 1 day ago by Katie Luckey
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this movie
How different things were in a male-dominated world. The Duchess tied to break out of that mold, but couldn't do it. A truly story brought to light.
Published 1 day ago by Bess
5.0 out of 5 stars Royalty Ain't Perfect
So beautiful - so cunning! And so very unhappy. This is an excellent film to watch and shows that those of us who are born "common" have privilege that those with a title... Read more
Published 1 day ago by Ellyn M. Renken
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful period film!
Gorgeous period film. Based on actual people, and the history is pretty accurate so it wasn't jarringly anachronistic. Read more
Published 1 day ago by andrea masse
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Nice movie and it was a treat that it was factual.. Good period piece.
Published 1 day ago by Kathleen R. Adams
5.0 out of 5 stars The Dutchess is a winner
Very entertaining history lesson and good glimpse into aristocratic life in the late 18th century. Beautiful costumes, excellent production, acting etc.
Published 1 day ago by Barbara Bourgeois
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