Watch before Viewing The Duchess

Before The Duchess hits theatres Friday, recommends the following period dramas to get you in the mood.





Though the BBC television series is generally considered the best adaptation of Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’, the 2005 film, directed by Joe Wright and starring Matthew Macfadyen and Keira Knightley should not be overlooked. Like the other screen versions (this is the sixth), we watch the Bennet family as the hilarious histrionic Mrs Bennet (Brenda Blethyn) and her endearingly henpecked husband (Donald Sutherland) look to marry off their five daughters (well this is 18th century Britain after all…). With a superb screenplay by Deborah Moggach and natural chemistry between stars Knightley and MacFadyen, this is one adaptation not to miss. Period.




An atypical period drama from an atypical man, Stephen Fry made his directorial debut back in 2003 with ‘Bright Young Things’, based on the satirical ’30s novel ‘Viles Bodies’ (Evelyn Waugh), While the central plot of Bright Young Things is a romance, it is also a highly topical social comedy that shows a conservative older generation failing to understand the club-culture, music, dance, and frenetic pace of its children. Modern society at its most decadent and colourful is fully on display as is the popular media fuelled by gossip columnists and paparazzi who dominate a tabloid press propelled by rumour and scandall. Witty, faced paced, intelligent – everything you’d expect from Stephen Fry. It is also the final film of acclaimed British actor Sir John Mills.




Before Helena Bonham Carter became the gothic bride of Tim Burton, she won hearts as a young Englishwoman, Lucy Honeychurch. When she and her spinster chaperone, Charlotte Bartlett travel to Florence, they meet an unconventional Englishman, Mr. Emerson (Denholm Elliott), and his romantically unhappy son, George (Julian Sands). After George makes the grievous mistake of kissing Lucy during a picnic in the Florentine hills, Charlotte rushes her back to England. Safely home, Lucy becomes engaged to the stiff, very proper Cecil (Daniel Day-Lewis), but after finding out the Emersons have moved close by, Lucy has a hard time ignoring her attraction to the unsuitable George. Merchant Ivory’s first artistic and commercial hit is a light, well-acted, nicely mounted comedy of edwardian manners based on Forster’s classic novel.





A social-climbing young woman gains a foothold in the late Victorian upper crust by virtue of her wealthy and cultured aunt’s social connections, but finds marriage to her true love, a poor hack journalist, incompatible with her new station. She cooks up a plan to use her lover to bilk a guileless and fabulously wealthy American woman of her considerable fortune, but putting the scheme into action sparks painful conflicting emotions. A sleek adaptation of the eponymous Henry James novel, with the source material’s bitterness tempered by a more sympathetic characterization of its heroine


‘The Duchess’ is in Irish cinemas from Friday, September 5th.