Profile: Saul Dibb

  • The List
  • 4 September 2008
Profile: Saul Dibb


Saul Dibb


London, England, 1968.


Dibb started his career working on documentaries. Lifters followed a group of shoplifters and 2003’s Easy Money detailed the life of a couple working in the porn industry. He also worked as a cinematographer on Jon Ronson’s excellent Channel 4 documentary Tottenham Ayatollah. His feature film debut was the well-received black-on-black gun crime thriller Bullet Boy, starring ex-So Solid Crew member Ashley Walters. He then went on to direct the adaptation of Alan Hollinghurst’s 80s-set award winning gay romantic novel The Line of Beauty for ITV.

What’s he up to now? He has just directed The Duchess, an adaptation of Amanda Foreman’s acclaimed book Georgiana, The Duchess of Devonshire. It stars Keira Knightley as the eponymous aristocrat. The marketing has been selling the film as an 18th Century Princess Diana Story, much to Dibb’s amusement.

What he says about his work on the script after replacing Dane Suzanne Bier in the director’s chair ‘I read the script before I read the book and once I’d got two thirds of the way through I felt it was something that I wanted to do. Maybe because it carried so many of the similar kind of themes as Bullet Boy, even if I wasn’t immediately aware of the similarities. But it was also the emotional power of it, and the challenge to convey the emotional power in a period 200 years ago. I also felt that it was a feminist tragedy. I probably tried to focus the story onto one period much more when I started work on the project. Originally it covered the life of the Duchess right to the deathbed. What I wanted to do was not in any way make anything that was going to be a biopic, but to focus very much on the course of the first big chapter of her marriage, the first seven to ten years, and to try and find a clear focus for the storyline through that.’

Interesting fact:

Saul Dibb is the son of documentary filmmaker Mike Dibb, who directed Edward Said: The Last Interview.

The Duchess is on general release from Fri 5 Sep.

The Duchess

  • 3 stars
  • 2008
  • US
  • 1h 50min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Saul Dibb
  • Cast: Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes, Hayley Atwell, Charlotte Rampling, Dominic Cooper, Sebastian Applewhite

Period drama retelling the true life story of early 19th century socialite Georgiana Cavendish (Knightley), who finds herself in a mismatched and temperamental marriage, complete with a meddling other woman. She falls for the future prime minister Charles Grey (Cooper) but only inequality and tragedy can come of such…

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