I finally saw the film Duchess, 2008, starring Keira Knightley, Ralph
Fiennes and Charlotte Rampling, a costume period film adaptation of
Amanda Foreman's biography, Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire.
It was just that; a costume piece. The costumes and sets were
stunningly lavish, with much attention given to the exquisite details.
Knightley did a good job in the role of Georgiana Spencer, ancestor
of the late Princess Diana. It is amazing how much Diana's life
mirrored that of her forebear's. Georgiana was also the wildly
popular "it girl" of her day, but unhappy in marriage and bullied by,
as Diana called them, "the men in the grey coats". Remember Diana
saying there were three people in her marriage and that it was a bit
crowded? There really were three in Georgiana's marriage to the
Duke of Devonshire.
Ralph Fiennes played the Duke's hateable character with subtle
apathy and aplomb. Still, I felt the film was lacking. I was hoping for
a little more biographical substance and a little less bedroom scene.
Don't get me wrong; as you know, I am a hopeless romantic, but the
film left me craving more historical details.
So, I read Foreman's excellently researched biography. She did an
outstanding job with all the historic and political details, but her
writing style is a tad on the dry side and I found myself trudging
though the book. As is true in most cases, I wish I had read the book
prior to seeing the movie. The eye candy of all the fabulous
costumes would have been more satisfying as the icing on the cake,
after the meaty historic facts. So, I recommend both, but do your
homework and take the time to read the book first!