Friday 12 September 2008

The Duchess

I went to see The Duchess last night. I know Keira Knightley isn't every one's favourite but I am a history graduate and would have wanted to see this film whoever was cast.

As it turns out I really enjoyed the film. I don't know that Keira Knightley is what I had imagined Georgiana to be but she is certainly a good choice to highlight Georgiana's young age and inexperience when she marries and her physical difference from the actress who plays Bess, her best friend and her husband's later mistress works quite well.

Charlotte Rampling is wonderful as Countess Spencer and get some of the best lines- which she delivers with relish- sex for example 'can be a bother'.

To be honest I was mostly lost in the visuals of the film, it really is sumptuous. The costumes are wonderful, particularly Georgiana's as she was a fashion icon. The scenery is wonderful too, there is a scene where Georgiana and Bess are in a sort of marshy land which just seems so isolated and desolate but incredibly beautiful, quite unlike the pretty but quite twee English countrywide we often get in period films set in Britain.

For scent aficionados I was pleased to see bottles of scent on Georgiana's dressing table and she is also filmed dabbing perfume behind her ears on the way to an assignation. I suppose the scents Georgiana would have worn would along the lines of those worn by Marie Antoinette and discussed in the wonderful A Scented Palace by Elisabeth de Feydeau. The ingredients used by Marie Antoinette's perfumer seemed very similar to our own scents: rose, violet, tuberose and orange blossom- this is all from memory as my copy of the book is in storage! It is definitely worth finding your own copy and sitting down with some macaroons to immerse yourself- and I would say the same of the film.

**UPDATE** I just found this
excellent blog review of A scented palace which has more detail than my from memory musings!

Georgiana on her wedding day picture courtesy of:

Chatsworth house picture courtesy of:


Unknown said...

This is on my to see list; I love a good costumed drama. I must admit I had issues with the casting choice of Keira but I saw a clip the otherday and well she was good (she still doesn't fit my physical idea considering Bess was apparently borderline anorexic at least that is what i remember from Georgianna's biography). By the way I was a history grad also!;-)

Rose said...

Hi fellow history graduate ;-)

Yes i think they have swapped the figures of Bess and Georgiana over in the film, Keira being very slight and Hayley Atwell who plays Bess being much more curvy.

I think Kate Winslet would have been a good Georgiana but maybe the marriage section would have been trickier.

There are things that aren't included of course because of time but I still enjoyed it. Hope you do too!

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Ooh I can't wait to see this- it hasn't come out in America yet. I'm actually a big fan of Keira's as we all know I love that Coco Mademoiselle commercial (and of course other project she's done).

I must get the book by Elisabeth de Feydeau as I am borderline obsessed with Marie Antoinette and it sounds right up my alley- Thanks for the recommendation!

Rose said...

Yes I like Keira but Georgiana is such a big role and there's so much she goes through I wasn't sure what to expect of the film as a whole. She pulled it off for me though and worked well with the other actors. I'm sure other people could have played the role very well too though.

I hope you do like the book if you track it down!