Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Designing the Duchess

One of the movies I have on my must-see list just came out on DVD this past weekend, and I'm trying to find a way to clear all the guys out of the house so I can watch it, since they seem to think it's a "chick flick."

I'm talking, of course, about The Duchess (you clever readers will already have figured that out), pictured to the left.

The Duchess is the story of Georgiana Spencer (Keira Knightley), who married the wealthy and influential William Cavendish (Ralph Fiennes) when she was just 17. As he was the fifth Duke of Devonshire, she became upon her marriage a Duchess, and her new title put her in a prime position to influence society. If the name of Spencer seems familiar to you, you'll be interested to know that Georgianna was a direct ancestor to Princess Diana.

Now, Georgianna at 17 was obviously young to be both a married woman and a titled lady in one fell swoop, and you would think that she would just be flighty, and she apparently did start out mostly interested in high fashion and the like, which means the costumes from the movie are gorgeous. I've been lucky enough to score sole lovely costume sketches from the film to include in my review for you all to see from costume designer Michael O'Conner.

To her credit, the Duchess of Devonshire began to see that the power behind her influence could be used to promote real change in society, and as she matured she became one of the most impassioned political voices in all of 18th century Britain. Sadly, her marriage seems to have been a sham, "Beloved by a nation but betrayed by her husband, Georgiana’s charisma, political savvy and distinct flair for fashion would make her the “It Girl” of her era…"

I'm a Kiera Knightley fan , having seen her in everything from Bend it Like Beckham to all the Pirates of the Caribbean movies (I missed Atonement, another one on my list), and word is that she really shines in The Duchess. Plus, I just adore period pieces like Pride and Prejudice.

So now, like I said, I just need to clear the menfolk out of the house (though the Engineer might be persuaded to watch, even it is a "chick flick," because he has a thing for Kiera Knightley).

The Duchess is available on DVD (19.99 US) and Blu-ray (29.99 US), and if you enjoy costumes like me, be sure to check out the Blu-ray version, which includes among its bonus features a costume diary!

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