Merry Monday–Great Movie Costumes
I never got around to posting this over the weekend, so we’ll just make it Merry Monday.
This was a really hard list to come up with, because there are so many movies I don’t have on DVD that I really like the costumes in. You will notice, no doubt, that all of these are either fantasy or period pieces—those, naturally, are the ones we notice the costumes in most, because what the characters are wearing isn’t anything like what we see on a day-to-day basis.
This is by no means a definitive list. Nor are they necessarily my “favorite” of all times. But these are the ones that came immediately to mind as I was thinking about this topic.
10. Elizabeth. With the sequel coming out soon, I decided it was time to rent this film, as it received so much critical acclaim. Well, I wasn’t overly impressed with the story—in fact, if I hadn’t been working on screen captures from several other DVDs on this list, I probably wouldn’t have watched it all the way through. But the costumes were beautiful.
9. Somewhere in Time. Time-travel stories always make interesting movies as it gives the filmmakers the opportunity to contrast “modern” day (in this case, 1980) with historic (late-Edwardian) costuming. They also used Christopher Reeve’s increasing level of dishevelment to show his downward spiral as he attempted to go back in time, and then at the end, as he attempted to return.
8. North & South (Jakes). When this miniseries premiered in the mid-1980s, it led to my love of the American Civil War. In Book 1 (North & South) and Book 2 (Love & War), costumes were used not only to contrast the different levels of society (the wealthy northern industrialists vs. the working class abolitionists; the plantation owners vs. the slaves), but also the effect of the war, especially on those in the south. And, whether blue or gray, there’s just something about a man in uniform . . .
7. Anna and the King. I mentioned movie this a while back when discussing settings. In addition to the settings, the costumes were wonderful—again using costume to show the difference between West (Anna and her child) and East (everyone in Siam).
6. Titanic. When this movie first came out, I was sewing much of my own wardrobe. I’ll never forget the proliferation of patterns for dresses based on the costumes from this movie. And, I’ve been on a late-Edwardian kick recently—the style is much like the Regency style, but with a lot more color and sparkle.
5. My Fair Lady. I don’t actually own this on DVD, but the costumes are so wonderful, I was able to find all these images online. In addition to the little black dress she wore in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, photos of Audrey Hepburn in the costumes from My Fair Lady are some of the most iconic images of her.
4. Much Ado About Nothing. No, this isn’t the version that most people are familiar with. This is the version that the BBC did in 1984. The sets weren’t great, but the costumes were beautiful.
3. Persuasion, Master & Commander, and the Hornblower series. These films help me out so much in visualizing the uniforms and costumes as I work on the Ransome series (even though these are all pre-1812, when the uniform codes changed slightly), so I had to do two images:
Able Seamen, Midshipmen, Marines, and Lieutenants
Commanders, Captains, Commodores, and Admirals
2. The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The images here hardly begin to show the attention to detail in the costumes. Especially with everything that’s shown in the behind-the-scenes features.
1. The Star Wars series. In the original three movies, each character has an iconic costume that we always associate them with. In the newer trilogy, there are so many costumes, it’s almost overwhelming. But they are worthy of the distinction I’ve given them here.
Honorable mentions go to: all of the BBC period pieces made since the mid-1990s including all of the Austen adaptations, all of the Jane Eyres, Jericho of Scotland Yard, Miss Marple, Bleak House, etc.; Portrait of a Lady, An Ideal Husband, Gosford Park and Age of Innocence; De Lovely and Pleasantville; Shakespeare in Love, Man in the Iron Mask, and Ever After; Gladiator, 300, Narnia, and The Chronicles of Riddick; and, of course, Pirates of the Caribbean.