The Duchess just won a BAFTA for costumes. Yay Michael O'Connor you deserve it!
I thought the costumes on the movie were stunning. I could hardly concentrate on the movie I was so enchanted by the outfits. I cannot wait to watch it again on DVD so I can pay attention to the movie.
I have just watched the film. For those who can stand it, I am mentally preparing a detailed and scathing report on it from a societal and writerly perspective. Suffice to say, of the costumes and this post, I am moved to summarize my diatribe with a simple observation: "The film was a beautiful piece of shit."
As promised, the review, admittedly late come....and with a bit of floweriness that I really enjoyed.Alas, what a fool I was to ignore my doubts! At the first whisper of this theatrical entertainment, a celluloid rendering of the life of our dr, dr Georgiana, at the hands, no less, of one of the Esteemed houses of Hollywood, I was arrested with my usual cynicism. Told as I was of the choice of actresses to depict our fine lady, I found my qualms in no way relieved, considering my association of the lantern-jawed talent to her most lucrative work in those oh-so-brilliant bits of film craft, The Pirates of the Caribbean, ad nauseum and so forth. Still, seduced by the pleasure I felt at reading Ms. Foreman’s telling of this noblewoman’s life, I followed the foolish and impudent path of greed, determined to absorb just a bit more of that heady perfume the Initiate call, simply, Georgiana.What followed was, for this admittedly jaded author, an odious path that illuminated bleakly the belief of our studios in the absolute poverty of imagination of the average theatre goer. For herein, one sees every blatant device employed to amplify the idyllic concept that women are intrinsically loyal and obeisant unless expressly provoked by the worst brand of misogyny. In this telling of the tale, not only are Georgiana’s passions for gambling and politics underplayed until they seem no more prominent a feature of her life than the furnishings of one of her homes, but the chronology of her life is manipulated in the most perverse way to construe that she was a hapless and rather predictable victim of her times, rather than the proactive and exciting contrarian that she most certainly was. By focusing so much attention on contrived conflicts of the supposed lovers triangle of Georgiana, Bess and the Duke, valuable screen time was robbed of the more fascinating attributes of the Duchess’ life: her influence and connectedness to the court of la belle France, her truly powerful societal role in the Whig Party, and the overall course of her life, which lead her to a place of discipline, learning and independence. In her period of Exile alone, the Duchess followed the hardscrabble path of the French Émigré along its troubled course, all the while learning to find new purpose through Science and Knowledge rather than Risk. The one attribute of her relationship with Lady Elizabeth that Amanda Foreman felt prudent not to extrapolate upon, the idea of their mutual sexual amore, was given a wide cast in this telling during an erotic scene one cannot help but feel benefited a few pent up film makers and a test group of twenty-something males more than all else, while the more important idea, that they found a way to salvage their friendship and to become a working threesome, was completely obliterated until the emotionless end. I cannot begin to catalog the many contrivances and abuses of truth that were enacted to make this story so disappointing to me, yet still I wish that the facts, sometimes infuriating, always understandable, had not been sacrificed so rakishly. Instead of fact, we are presented with a story of noble sacrifice, contentious adultery and gauntly expressed pathos. The powerfully undermining presence of Lady Spencer is little more than a sideline for a fraction of the story, the gambling and opium are virtually nonexistent and the admirably Bohemian acceptance of the manage-et toi is subverted so that the public may be presented with a tale of wifely suffering that won’t ruffle any church feathers. To have recently read the well rendered biography and so quickly chased it with this sham account is to have taken an elixir that pointedly and cruelly reveals to just what extent the young, fulsome Lords of Hollywood underestimate the prowess of the populace to accept complex realities and to have compassion for tales that are a rich tapestry of love, pettiness, pleasure, politics and, of course, pain.
I had a lot to say too, after I had first seen the film. After seeing it on DVD 2 times though, I began finally getting angry. So I haven't watched it since.
It WAS a shame. Done right, it could have been one of my favorite movies of all time.
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Scandalous tid-bits from England's finest socialite of the Georgian age.