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It just struck me when I was about to write this that I have only ever watched Keira Knightley whenever she was in period films. Films like ‘Pride and Prejudice’, ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’, ‘Atonement’… It is a funny coincidence but I wonder whether I would be able to watch her in a normal present day / futuristic movie next time.

I recently watched ‘The Duchess’ staring Keira and Ralph Fiennes. I’ve always like period films. I love to see the elaborate dresses and the manner of speaking, style of living and mentally compare them with the present. Sometimes things happening back then aren’t that much different from what we have now and it is curious the way some things undergo such drastic makeovers while some are able to endure. I am partial to English history and culture. I guess I have to give credit to Jane Austen who is one of my favourite authors and her stories just pique my interest in anything English. My ultimate dream trip is to visit the places mentioned in the books, especially Bath.

‘The Duchess’ is the story of Georgina, daughter to the Earl of Spencer who married the Duke of Devonshire when she was just a young girl (well not so during her time though). She was instantly catapulted into the spotlight and every move, every action of hers her scruntinised by her peers and the public and reported and discussed by everyone. Georgina enjoyed a life of luxury and fame. She had access to the best parties, everyone clamoured to be considered her acquaintance and the common people adored her. However, her good fortune did not extend to her marriage. The Duke was distant and cool. He main priority was to secure an heir and apart from that, did not seem to consider the need to spend time with his wife. As one of the characters in the movie remarked ‘The Duke of Devonshire is the only man not in love with her.’. Georgina naturally felt disappointed and hurt. It was an even bigger insult when the Duke was unfaithful to her. She was forced to accept the fact that her husband was having an affair and pretended that things were fine. It was probably quite common for men of rank at that time to keep mistresses but the greatest blow was when the Duke turned to her best friend. Georgine’s perfect world started falling apart and the only solace she could find was in an unlikely candidate. An ambitious politician by the name of Charles Grey. Finally there was someone who understood her and loved her for who she was, who would not look at her inability to produce an heir as a failure. Georgina decided to make a deal with her husband, to give his permission for her to see Chrles Grey while she in return give her blessing to his relationship with her friend. The Duke of course would not stand to be insulted in this way. He was an unyeilding man who expected everyone to bow to his demands and what Georgina was asking would humiliate him before the whole of London. Thus followed the most bitter and heartbreaking of battles for Georgina as she fought for her heart and freedom.

It was a very moving movie and it did not feel draggy at all. Kiera was at her best so far and I usually do not like her acting skills. I can never get used to her style. I don’t think I ever will but it did not bother me at all in this movie. The colours were wonderful and the cast amazing. They were some comical moments supplied by the Duke. I felt really sorry for Georgina and her situation in life. If she was born in this period, maybe her free spirit and courage would have brought her to a different fate… It is something we could only wonder. However, she was the Duchess of Devonshire, an extraodinary girl who stayed true to herself and emerged a woman, one who faced faced every challenge fate dealt her with unflinching conviction and bravery. To think that Princess Diana was her descendant…

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