Tag Archives: Kate Winslet

Films with Brilliant Costumes

24 Apr

Two Aprils ago, I wrote a similar post. As expected, I watched a lot of films in the mean time. Costumes in films are an interesting topic, and I’m afraid they tend to captivate my attention quite a lot. This list is rather different then the previous one, which consisted mostly of period dramas set in Georgian and Victorian era.

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1. Factory Girl (2006)

‘Poor little rich girl’, Edie Sedgwick, led a short, but turbulent and glamorous life. In Factory Girl she was portrayed by Sienna Miller, I loved her performance. Her look is equally alluring as unattainable – gold and silver mini-dresses, Beatnik-style no-trousers-look with black tights and kitten-heel boots, large earrings, cigarette and an amethyst ring. Regrettably, Edie’s chic ’60s wardrobe is more suitable for Andy Warhol’s Factory, than for a lifestyle of a schoolgirl like me.

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2. Lolita (1962)

Despite the film’s subject being more or less controversial, the clothes that Sue Lyon wears are rather nice, and I’m not even a fan of 1950s fashion. Thanks to Bern Stern’s publicity photos of Sue Lyon wearing heart-shaped sunglasses, they became a symbol for nymphets (both the book and film), even thought in the film Lolita wears only the simple cat sunglasses. I think Sue Lyon was brilliant as Lolita. She seems so mature considering that she was only 14 years old by the time filming started.

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3. Eight Miles High (2007)

This is a biographical film about the life of a West German groupie Uschi Obermaier played by Natalie Avalon. Appropriately, the clothes Uschi wears are in tune with the late ’60s and 70s fashion, which means plenty of mini skirts, sequins, messy bed-hair, gypsy skirts, jeans… Uschi’s life was really wild, and she had a wardrobe to accompany it.

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4. Darling (1965)

Interested in what an elegant lady climbing up the social ladder, in 1965 London, would be wearing? Well, you should watch Julie Christie in Darling. A very classic, elegant 1960s style with chic tweed suits, long evening dresses with sequins, kerchiefs, skirts with knee socks. I’d call this film a portrait of London’s society in the mid 1960s.

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5. Cheri (2009)

Michelle Pfeiffer plays a retired courtesan in this costume drama set in La Belle Epoque. Her costumes are so evocative of fin de siecle; wide-brimmed hats, roses, black gloves, silks, beautiful silks, white lace and pearls. Michelle Pfeiffer must have signed a deal with the devil because she doesn’t seem to age, she’s still simply drop dead gorgeous.

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6. Irma La Douce (1963)

Another charming courtesan, Irma La Douce, played by Shirley MacLaine, in a comedy set in 1960s Paris. Irma is mad about green colour, and her costumes prove that. She often wears a black skirt with green stockings, green shirt, green bow in her hair, green eyeshadow, even a green bra.

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7. Une Femme Est Une Femme (1961)

Anna Karina’s vivid red and blue outfits in ‘A Woman is a Woman’, perfectly match the grey backdrop of Paris. And the costumes are just one tiny bit of this film’s brilliance. I confess, I’ve been very keen on colourful tights ever since I first watched this film, I have them in all colours.

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8. Dark Shadows (2012)

I’ve always wondered how would Tim Burton mix ‘Victorian Gothic’ and Psychedelic aesthetics, and this film answered my question. I already wrote a post for itself discussing costumes and my opinion about this film, so I’ll quote myself: I can imagine myself having Carolyn’s bedroom; a psychedelic style decorated room with yellow carpet, vivid purple walls covered with posters of Iggy Pop and various other musicians of the time. It’s very bright, groovy, colourful and inspirational. I really loved the fact that every character has its own distinct style.

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9. Little Dorrit (2008)

This adaptation of Dickens’ novel is set in the 1820s, thought it has that doll-like 1830s vibe in some costumes, specially those worn by Fanny Dorrit. You can see her costume in the photo, on the left: that extravagant hairstyle with feathers, lace mittens, and wide sleeves – quite a theatrical flair about her character.

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10. An Education (2009)

A film about a bored schoolgirl who meets a charming (and married) man who introduces her to a life of luxuries, parties, art auctions. Carey Mulligan plays this little modern Emma Bovary, and her quote says it all: ‘You have no idea how boring everything was before I met you.’ Most of the film she wears her school uniform, but when she goes out in the evenings she’s clad in classic and elegant 1960s style.

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11. A Little Chaos (2014)

This is the most recent film from this I’ve watched, starring Kate Winslet and Alan Rickman. Winslet is dressed rather plain throughout the film because she’s a gardener, but there one scene near the end, at the court, where everyone’s dressed in late 17th century/ Restoration era finery. Cream coloured silks, lace, wide sleeves, and the hairstyle are so romantic and carefree.

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12. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

Vivian Leigh as a withered Southern Belle with fragile nerves who doesn’t want ‘realism, but magic’, and is always dressed in fine silks, lace and fur, adorned by the finest perfume, of course never in the daylight because it would reveal her true age and looks. I so empathise with her.

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13. Jezebel (1938)

This film, starring the beautiful Bette Davis, is a proof that rustling of taffeta petticoats and silks skirts is the sweetest sound in the world. I thought the plot and the ending were a bit vague, but costumes absolutely delighted me.

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Have you a film you’d add on the list?

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Marianne Dashwood – A Romantic Heroine

18 Apr

Marianne’s abilities were, in many respects, quite equal to Elinor’s. She was sensible and clever; but eager in everything: her sorrows, her joys, could have no moderation. She was generous, amiable, interesting: she was everything but prudent. The resemblance between her and her mother was strikingly great.

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‘Sense and Sensibility’ was Jane Austen’s first published work and is my favourite novel by Jane Austen. Both the movie Sense and Sensibility (1995) and the novel are amusing and interesting, a real nourishment for imagination. Even if you throw out the romance, you’re still left with witty dialogues, interesting Regency fashion, insight into social customs and daily life in Regency era. There’s something so exciting in imagining that perhaps there once was a Marianne Dashwood out there, with all her romantic adventures and sensibilities!

The character of Marianne Dashwood is probably the main reason why I love this book so much. I feel I can relate to her, much more than I can to Elizabeth Bennet, despite the general admiration and affection readers usually have for Miss Lizzy. I think Marianne is a very interesting character, a typical heroine of Romanticism. Embodying the ‘sensibility’ of the title, Marianne is spontaneous, impulsive, idealistic, excessively sensitive, amiable and generous; she’s everything but ‘sensible’. Marianne’s romantic and passionate nature has shaped her interests and hobbies, as well as her attitudes towards love and life; she loves reading poetry, playing pianoforte and singing, living passionately in general, long strolls, romantic adventures, and, keeping in touch with Romanticism, she loves nature. Like Marianne, I am exceedingly romantic, because I’ve listened to Chopin’s Nocturnes one too many a time, read too many Victorian novels, and I daydream too much.

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No voice divine the storm allay’d,
No light propitious shone;
When, snatch’d from all effectual aid,
We perish’d, each alone;
But I beneath a rougher sea,
And whelmed in deeper gulphs than he.

       The Castaway, 1799, lines 61–66 (William Cowper)

Marianne is particularly fond of William Cowper who is considered one of the forerunners of Romanticism. His thoughtful and emotional celebration of the beauty of nature was very appealing to Jane Austen herself. I think it’s very appropriate that they included a recitation of Cowper’s poem in the movie because it perfectly demonstrated the difference between two sisters, their worldviews and qualities they value. During discussions about Edward Ferrars, Marianne proclaimed: ‘I could not be happy with a man whose taste did not in every point coincide with my own. He must enter in all my feelings; the same books, the same music must charm us both.

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Kate Winslet is the only Marianne Dashwood for me! She perfectly embodied Marianne’s romantic idealism, spontaneity, and passion for wild flowers and poetry! I have not doubted for a moment that who I’m watching on the screen is a real Marianne Dashwood coming to life. Even her appearance coincided with my own vision of Marianne! Kate’s appearance in the movie was pure embodiment of the word ‘romantic’; her sparkling eyes, golden curls and heart-shaped lips were all perfectly suitable for the image of a romantic heroine.

Every romantic heroine needs a romantic hero. Marianne’s first romantic adventure began the moment Mr Willoughby carried her to the house, in the rain, after she had sprained her ankle. The next morning he brought her wildflowers, and the two bonded over the shared love of poetry. Still, the story would have been too perfect if it had stopped there. Willoughby had secrets of his own. It seemed sad to me at first, but after finding about Willoughby’s immoral behavior and corruptible nature, I was delighted that he abandoned Marianne for I would not want a person like that to be her husband.

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Even though some, or rather, most of the readers have expressed disappointment on Marianne falling in love and marrying Colonel Brandon, I actually liked the ending. Willoughby seems a better partner for Marianne at first; he’s young, handsome and charming, but it is maturity and wisdom of Colonel Brandon that enabled him to deeply love and appreciate Marianne in a way Willoughby never could. It’s just my opinion though, perhaps somewhat shaped by the fact that Brandon was portrayed by Alan Rickman in the film, and I like him, and his voice.

In the end, Marianne realised that Colonel Brandon was very much capable of falling in love or inspiring love in someone else. I think it’s very romantic how he fell in love with Marianne at first sight, as she reminded him of his unforgotten love Eliza, without even hoping or expecting Marianne to return his feelings.