ROYALTY ON SCREEN: Keira Knightley Pioneer Feminist in "The Duchess"


ROYALTY ON SCREEN: Keira Knightley Pioneer Feminist in "The Duchess"
by Darius Kadivar

A chronicle of the life of 18th century aristocrat Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, who was reviled for her extravagant political and personal life.The Duchess is a 2008 British drama film based on Amanda Foreman's biography of the 18th-century English aristocrat Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire. The Duchess was directed by Saul Dibb starring Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes, Charlotte Rampling and Dominic Cooper

Official UK Trailer:

CBS Report / Interview of Keira Knightley on her role:

Chuck the Movieguy interviews Keira Knightly for the movie The Duchess:

Interview with Cast:

Meet the cast from The Duchess,Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes, Hayley Atwell and Dominic Cooper, talking about love, betrayal and passion.

(NOTE: To Watch Double Click Here )

Keira Knightley explains why she was initially terrified about accepting the lead role in her new movie The Duchess, in which she co-stars with Ralph Fiennes, and why she feels it's a character anyone can identify with.

(NOTE: To Watch Double Click Here)


Set at the end of the eighteenth century, The Duchess is based on the life of Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire. While her beauty, charisma, and fashion sense made her famous, her extravagant tastes and appetite for gambling made her infamous. She was married to William Cavendish, the 5th Duke of Devonshire, a cold, distant, and much older figure. Georgiana soon became inured to his blatant infidelities, even raising his illegitimate daughter as her own child. Georgiana became a fashion icon, a doting mother, and a shrewd political operator, the intimate of ministers and princes, and darling of the common people. But at the core is Georgiana’s passionate and doomed affair with Earl Grey, the future Prime Minister, and the complex love triangle with her husband and her best friend, Lady Bess Foster.After a torrid affair with future Prime Minister Charles Grey, Georgiana is forced into seclusion to bear Grey's child. She hands the child, Eliza, over to Grey's relatives, though Georgiana secretly visits Eliza throughout her life. Eliza learns of her true parentage only after Georgiana's death; she names her own daughter Georgiana. With Georgiana's blessing, Bess succeeds her as Duchess of Devonshire.

Critical Reception:

The film received mixed, though mostly positive, reviews gaining 61% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 142 reviews, with the consensus that "Keira Knightley squeezes into a corset again, and pulls off another worthy performance in this sumptuous and emotional period drama, that serves parallels to the Duchess's descendent Princess Diana." Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian wrote that "Dibb's movie looks good" [however] "exasperatingly bland and slow-moving at all times" handing out a 2 of 5 star rating. However, Paul Hurley gave the film 8/10 and called The Duchess "an excellent new film" and states that "The Duchess stands a good chance of taking home some very big prizes at the end of the year".Most reviewers have highly praised Knightley and Fiennes' performances. Timeout London wrote: "[Saul Dibb] is also helped enormously by a mature, restrained portrayal from Knightley, a masterclass in passive aggression from Fiennes and a performance of tender seduction from Atwell." The Epoch Times writes, "Ralph Fiennes brings a human quality to [the Duke] by avoiding any intent, exaggeration or ill will" and "Keira Knightley’s performance gains new depth — she not only perfectly portrays a witty and feminine Georgiana early in the film, but also a caring mother, and an abandoned woman later on. Also remarkable in this role is Knightley’s ability to portray the strengths, weaknesses, and the internal hurdles of Georgiana, as well as her internal contemplation."[  Film Ireland writes "It is a slow movie but it is well acted with Knightley and Fiennes suited to their roles, especially Fiennes who gives a formidable and powerful performance." Cameron Baily, the co-chair of The Toronto International Festival comments; “The Duchess Of Devonshire, with Keira Knightley, which is a beautiful film and she gives a really mature performance. You’re seeing her really turn into something beyond the kind of pretty face that we’ve seen her do already so well. But she’s actually a very serious actress and she’s turning into a great, great performer.The film's costume designer Michael O'Connor was nominated for, and won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design, the BAFTA Award for Best Costume Design and the Satellite Award for Best Costume Design.

Official Website:

Related Blogs:

ROYALTY ON SCREEN: James Purefoy and Paul Giamatti in "Ironclad"

ROYALTY ON SCREEN: Kenneth Branagh And An All Star Cast in "Hamlet" (1996)

ROYALTY ON SCREEN: Timothy Dalton and Valeria Golino in "The King's Whore" (1990)


ROYALTY ON SCREEN: Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr in "The King and I"

ROYALTY ON SCREEN: Omar Sharif in The tragedy of Mayerling 

ROYALTY ON SCREEN: Johansson, Portman and Bana in "The Other Boleyn Girl"


ROYALTY ON SCREEN: Bernardo Bertolucci's "The Last Emperor" (1987)

ROYALTY ON SCREEN: Jack Black and Emily Blunt in "Gulliver's Travels"

ROYALTY ON SCREEN: Jonathan Rhys Meyers is King Henry VIII in The "Tudors"   

ROYALTY ON SCREEN: Mylène Farmer's "Libertine 1 & 2" (1986/89)

ROYALTY ON SCREEN: Franklin J. Schaffner's "Nicholas and Alexandra" (1971)

ROYALTY ON SCREEN: Ian McKellen is "Richard III" in a fascist-inspired version of Britain (1995)

ROYALTY ONSCREEN: Peter O'Toole in "The Lion in Winter" (1968)

ROYALTY ON SCREEN: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (3D)

ROYALTY ONSCREEN: The Madness of King George (1994)

ROYALTY ONSCREEN: Robert Downey Jr. in "RESTORATION" (1995)

ROYALTY ONSCREEN: Madonna's Bio Epic Romance on Edward VIII & Wallis Simpson (Due 2011)

ROYALTY ONSCREEN: Colin Firth in "The King's Speech" (2010)

THE KING's SPEECH: Press Conference with Cast and Crew at BFI 2010 

ROYALTY ON SCREEN: Disney's take on Grimm Bros' Rapunzel Tale "Tangled" (3D) 

ROYALTY ON SCREEN: McBride, Franco, Portman in "Your Highness"   

ROYALTY ON SCREEN: Helen Mirren is Queen Elizabeth II in Stephen Frears' "The Queen" (2006) 


more from Darius Kadivar