Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Film Review: The Duchess - "compromised freedom"

The Duchess is Keira Knightley's latest offering, telling the story based on truth of an 18th Century woman trapped in a loveless marriage to a Duke only bothered about fathering a male heir.

To be honest, it wasn't a great film - a tired script accompanied by very slow moving action didn't make it a great evening's entertainment!

There are a few thinking points:

- patriarchal societies are viewed very negatively - and whilst women have more rights today, the implication is that experience felt by the lead character is still felt by women today in a man's world;
- there are clear links between the Duchess of Devonshire and her descendant Princess Diana (the more links you look out for, the more you will see);
- the places where freedom is most fully experienced is away from the marital home, Devonshire House.

Rather naively, towards the beginning of the film, the Duchess speaks to a politician about how she cannot envisage partial or compromised freedom. The message of the film is that, although we all long for freedom, everyone (apart from maybe children) experiences compromised freedom (a predicament faced par excellence in the case of Diana). Freedom can be sucked away by social responsibilities, expectations of one in your status or position, marriage, moral demands and family commitments. According to the film, then, true freedom in adult like is found in the odd moments when one can escape these commitments.

All in all a sad film - longing for freedom, looking in the wrong places ... and never finding it.

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