Whilst this is a film is a historical drama, I found myself empathising with Georgiana’s plight. It was a movie that dragged me through a wide range of emotions. I felt angered by her lack of freedom in a loveless marriage. Angered that women, in the 18th century, had no rights and very glad that I didn’t live in that time. I was really angry that the duke was so callous towards Georgiana. To him she was just someone to bear him a son, and he did not love her.
It is a society in which it is okay for a man to have affairs, but wives must not. This double standard runs throughout the film and had me thinking that it would be better to be poor and in love, at that time, than rich and in an arranged marriage. It is okay for men to look elsewhere when they are unfulfilled, but women are treated as little more than animals.
Whilst I’m unsure about how much physical abuse went on at that time, we learn through Bess, Georgiana’s friend, that abuse was acceptable. A man can beat his wife with a stick, as long it is no thicker than his thumb. A man, especially a man with power, can prevent his wife from having any contact with their children. She owns no property, has no vote, no standing, therefore very little rights at all.
But is it only am 18th Century story? I think not. We have come far in relation to basic human rights in regard to equality of the sexes. And yet, there is still an attitude that remains that men are studs and women are sluts if they sleep around. Was it okay for Prince Charles to have his affair with Camilla, whilst Diana was shut out of a loveless marriage?
In fact, the story of the Duchess could in fact be the story of a Princess. A princess we all grew to love, Princess Diana. She had more freedom than in Georgiana’s day, one could say, but did that bring happiness for Diana? Therefore, would that freedom, she wished for, have brought Georgiana happiness? It may have, but at what cost?
This is definitely a film to watch, but not if you’re looking for a good laugh.
Reviewed by: Dione Read
Rating: M – Suitable for mature audiences 16 years and over.
Released on: February 4th, 2009
Year of Original Release: 2008
Stars: Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes, Charlotte Rampling, Dominic Cooper, Hayley Atwell, Simon McBurney, Aidan McArdle, John Shrapnel, Alistair Petrie, Patrick Godfrey, Justin Edwards, Richard McCabe
Length (Minutes): 106
Media Format: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 1.78 : 1
Supported Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo
Director: Dibb, Saul
Studio: Paramount Pictures