Costume Drama on TV and Film

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Costume Drama on TV and Film

  1. 1. costume drama <br />
  2. 2.
  3. 3. costume drama <br />Costume film, sometimes called "costume drama", "(British) heritage cinema", "period film" or "quality cinema." <br />On one hand, it emphasises visual spectacle, with frequent use of painterly mise–en–scènes, with adaptation of known literature providing narrative appeal. <br />On the other hand, attention to detail and slow pace, exploitation of likeable and dislikeable characters in overwhelmingly frustrating situations with continually recurring affirmation of villainous male dominance that inflame audiences and critics.<br />
  4. 4. Pride & Prejudice TV<br />
  5. 5. A costume drama is a period piece which elaborate costumes, sets and properties are featured in order to capture the ambiance of a particular era.The term is usually used in the context of film and TV. It is an informal, crossover term that can apply to several genres but is most often heard in the context of historical dramas and romances, adventure films and swashbucklers. The implication is that the audience is attracted as much by the lavish costumes as by the content.The most common type of costume drama is the historical costume drama, both on stage and in movies. This category includes Barry Lyndon, Braveheart, and Robin Hood.<br /> Films that are set in the 1930s and 1940s, such as Last Man Standing, may also be placed in this category. Other examples include Marie Antoinette, Middlemarch, and Pride & Prejudice.<br />
  6. 6. There has been a long-standing relationship between literary novels and film and television. Adaptations of well-known 'classics' were made from the early days of cinema.<br />Yet this has often seemed to be an uneasy relationship. <br />Frequently critical writing on adaptations has come from a literary standpoint focusing on the fidelity of the film to the novel on which it is based. On the other hand film theorists have indicated that these kind of literary judgements devalue film, which has its own visual language.<br />We hope that the references provided in this pack will give useful material on the issues surrounding this debate. There are a substantial number relating to films of the works of Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and George Eliot, whose novels have frequently been adapted for film and television.<br />
  7. 7. There is also a section on 'heritage film' as exemplified by the work of the Merchant Ivory production team in bringing adaptations of the novels of E.M.Forster to the screen. The 'heritage film' has been the subject of intense debate since the 1980s and and has been criticised by some for its commodification of the past - for its perceived tendency to present British culture and history in a prettified and conservative package.<br />Since the early 1990s there has been a move away from the 'heritage film' towards adaptations of literary novels by a number of directors who have worked in other genres and have brought a fresh vision to the costume film. Perhaps the first to take this approach was Martin Scorsese whose The Age of Innocence, adapted from the novel by Edith Wharton, was widely praised by film theorists as a cinematic triumph.<br />
  8. 8. In the last two decades there has been largely critical discussion of the role which costume films play in the construction of the idea of national heritage.<br />Much of this writing has assumed that such films generally holster partial and conservative interests and represent a chronic nostalgia for a make-believe past.<br />Adaptations from historic classic novels are seen as forcing middle-class tastes and standards upon the whole viewing public. <br />The extraordinary success of the BBC's 1995 Pride and Prejudice gives one the opportunity to examine in some detail the inter-connectedness of a number of cultural industries including heritage, museums, tourism, publishing and television, in audience perception and reception. <br />
  9. 9. Merchant-Ivory<br />The team of:<br />Producer Ismail Merchant<br />Director James Ivory<br />Screenwriter Ruth PrawerJhabvala<br />Merchant Ivory Productions is a film company founded in 1961 by James Ivory and Ismail Merchant. Their films were for the most part directed by the former, produced by the latter, and scripted by Ruth PrawerJhabvala (a noted exception of a few films). The films were often based upon novels or short stories, particularly the work of Henry James, E. M. Forster, and two novels by Jhabvala herself.<br />
  10. 10. March 3, 2002 <br />Costume drama in crisis Ismail Merchant and James Ivory are famous for their glossy period dramas, but their recent output has been disappointing. <br />It is exactly 40 years ago that Merchant Ivory's first film went into production. In the cut-throat film industry, four decades is an unfeasibly long run, and last week the Merchant Ivory team (producer Ismail Merchant, director James Ivory, screenwriter Ruth PrawerJhabvala) were duly recognised for their longevity and their output of 46 films. At the BAFTA awards, they received British Academy fellowships, honouring their formidable careers.<br />
  11. 11. The Five Forty-Eight (1978) <br />The Europeans (1979)<br />Jane Austen in Manhattan (1980) <br />Quartet (1981) <br />The Courtesans of Bombay (1983) <br />Heat and Dust (1983) <br />The Bostonians (1984)<br />A Room with a View (1985) <br />Maurice (1987) <br />The Deceivers (1988) <br />The Perfect Murder (1988) <br />Slaves of New York (1989)<br />Mr. & Mrs. Bridge (1990) <br />The Ballad of the Sad Café (1991) <br />Howards End (1992) <br />The Remains of the Day (1993) <br />In Custody (1994) <br />Feast of July (1995)<br />Jefferson in Paris (1995) <br />Surviving Picasso (1996)  <br />
  12. 12. A TOP-TEN of BRITISH COSTUME DRAMAS: <br />#1. Pride and Prejudice (1996)    Director Simon Langton   Rating: * * * * * The credit for this film triumph has to be distributed broadly. The settings are magnificent, utilizing mansions throughout England. Dinah Collins created beautiful and authentic costumes and Carl Davis provided a magnificent score. What viewers typically most relish, however, is the casting for the two leads, Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet and Colin Firth as Fitzwilliam Darcy. Firth is virtually perfect as Darcy. Ehle's performance is right-on as well, though she should be both younger and slimmer to match the description of the character in the novel. The casting for many of the supporting roles is excellent as well, including Benjamin Whitrow as Mr. Bennet, Tim Wylton and Joanna David as the Gardiners, Adrian Lukis as Wickham, Emilia Fox as Georgiana Darcy, Crispin Bonham-Carter as Bingham, David Bamber as Mr. Collins, and Lucy Scott as Charlotte Lucas. The high degree of faithfulness to the spirit of the novel combined with stellar production values make this film one of the finest costume dramas ever made. <br />
  13. 13. Oliver Twist (1948) <br />
  14. 14. TOP-TEN BRITISH COSTUME DRAMAS: <br />#2. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)    Director David Lean   Rating: * * * * * This stirring biography of the enigmatic T.E. Lawrence features Peter O'Toole's great portrayal of the Englishman who incited Arab tribesmen of the desert to battle the Ottoman Turks during World War I. Alec Guinness stars as Prince Feisal and Omar Sherif as Sherif Ali. The unforgettable shots of the barren desert terrain together with the stirring soundtrack helped make this film a classic. It won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Color Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Art Direction, Best Original Score, and Best Sound. #3. Oliver Twist (1948)    Director David Lean   Rating: * * * * * Alec Guinness plays Fagin, Anthony Newley is the Artful Dodger, and John Howard Davies portrays Oliver Twist in this skillfully compressed version of Dickens's sprawling novel. The sets by John Bryan are outstanding as is the cinematography by Guy Green, both of whom won Oscars. Many critics prefer Lean's later Dickens's adaptation, Great Expectations, by I give the edge to this one. <br />
  15. 15. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)<br />
  16. 16. TOP-TEN BRITISH COSTUME DRAMAS: <br />#4. The Red Shoes (1948)    Director Powell/Pressburger    * * * * *<br />There's sheer magic on the celluloid for this glorious story about the backstage work, sacrifices, and intrigues that go into the staging of world-class ballet performances. Anton Walbrook plays Boris Lermontov, a ballet impresario obviously modeled after Serge Diaghilev, who led the Bolshoi Ballet to the pinnacle of the ballet world. Two young and ambitious newcomers join the company: talented ballerina Victoria Page (Moira Shearer) and young composer Julian Craster (Marius Goring). When both reveal their promise, Walbrook gives Craster an opportunity to compose a new ballet that will star Victoria. The film's highlight is a 20-minute surrealistic staging of the resultant ballet, called "The Red Shoes." When Julian and Victoria fall in love, they run afoul of Lermontov, who believes that great artists must subordinate their personal lives to their artistic ambitions. #5. Great Expectations (1946)    Director David Lean   * * * * * Lean's second masterful adaptation of a Dickens's novel finds Anthony Wager as the young Pip Pirrip and John Mills in the adult role. The young Pip befriends an escaped convict, Abel Magwitch (Finlay Currie), and later rises from blacksmith apprentice to young gentleman by the intercession of an unknown benefactor. Magnificent atmospheric images highlight this film, which won Oscars for Best Black-and-White Cinematography and Best Art Direction. <br />
  17. 17. Persuasion (1995)<br />
  18. 18. TOP-TEN BRITISH COSTUME DRAMAS: <br />#6. Doctor Zhivago (1965)    Director David Lean   * * * * * Gorgeous art and set direction (by John Box), great costume design (Phyllis Dalton), and a dramatic score (Maurice Jarre), all of which took Oscars, is what most holds together this sprawling adaptation of an epic Russian novel by Pasternak. Omar Sharif plays Yuri Zhivago who marries his childhood companion, Tonya Gromeko (Geraldine Chaplin), but falls in love with the intriguing Lara Guishar (Julie Christie). This ill-starred romantic triangle plays out against the dramatic historical backdrop of the Bolshevik revolution and Russian Civil War. #7. Persuasion (1995)    Director Howard Baker    * * * * * Though lacking glamour and star appeal, this fine adaptation of a novel by Jane Austen is true to the spirit of the story and realistic in its treatment of history and context. Amanda Root is superb as Austen's second most perfect female character (after Elizabeth Bennet), Anne Elliot. Ciaran is excellent as the reticent love interest, Captain Wentworth. Watch for a stellar character performance by Sophie Thompson (sister of Emma Thompson), as the hypochondriac sister, Mary Elliot. <br />
  19. 19. TOP-TEN BRITISH COSTUME DRAMAS: <br />#8. Henry V (1944)    Director Laurence Olivier   Rating: * * * * * Olivier was commissioned to make this film during the height of the London Blitz in order to lift the sagging spirits of the British public. More than a mere propaganda piece, the film that Olivier delivered was a dazzling adaptation of a Shakespearean historical epic about a British monarch who triumphed by force of will against daunting odds. Olivier plays the title role while also directing and provided a highly innovative structure that begins and ends as a faithful reenactment of a 17th-century staging of the play at the Globe Theater, but opens up for the film's dramatic centerpiece, the Battle of Agincourt. The project was considered so important that Olivier was mustered out of the navy to spearhead the film. <br />
  20. 20. HowardsEnd (1992) <br />
  21. 21. TOP-TEN BRITISH COSTUME DRAMAS: <br />#9. Howards End (1992)    Director James Ivory  * * * * * This adaptation of a Forster novel from 1910 finds the Merchant-Ivory-Prawer trio teaming up once again. Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson provide compelling star power with Thompson earning an Oscar as Best Actress. When Ruth Wilcox (Vanessa Redgrave) passes away, she leaves a note indicating her wish that her family home be left to the friend who brightened her last days, Margaret Schlegel (Emma Thompson), but the husband and children choose to discard the paper that declares Ruth's intentions. Later, however, Ruth's widower, Henry (Anthony Hopkins), finds himself falling in love with Margaret. This film won Oscars for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Art and Set Direction. #10. A Man for All Seasons (1966) Director Fred Zinnemann* * * * * Paul Scofield carries this film as Sir Thomas More, who stands up to relentless pressure from a king to violate his religious beliefs to give blessing to the king's divorce and remarriage. Henry VIII (Robert Shaw) is in no mood to countenance opposition, however subtly it might be framed, so More ends up paying for his obstinate conscience with his life. The film won Oscars for its inventive camerawork (Best Cinematography) and well-crafted screenplay, in addition to Best Film, Best Actor, and Best Director. <br />
  22. 22. UK Costume Drama:<br />A History<br />
  23. 23. Costume dramas have been part of British cinema since the silent era. However, their appearance has been inconsistent over the years. <br />A proliferation of historical films during the 1930s and 1940s was followed by a decline during the 1950s, when British cinema was overwhelmed by Hollywood spectacles like The Robe (d. Henry Koster, 1953) and Ben Hur (d. William Wyler, 1959). <br />But history did not disappear from the screen. In 1957, Hammer Studios' diversion into English Gothic literature launched a long series of period horror films. <br />Even an exponent of the 'New Wave' of the late 1950s was to venture into costume drama. During the 1960s and 1970s, the high production values of historical films were largely due to American funding. But in the early 1980s, British cinema was rescued from oblivion by a costume film and, to date, period films represent some of the "best of British".<br />
  24. 24. In the 1910s, films became longer, narratives became more complex and costume drama became a key genre. <br />Dickens and Shakespeare were perennial favourites and adaptations of popular novels, like East Lynne (d. Bert Haldane, 1913) and Comin' Thro' the Rye (d. Cecil Hepworth, 1923) were particularly successful. <br />By the 1930s, Alexander Korda, Michael Balcon and Herbert Wilcox were the major producers of costume drama. <br />Korda's triumphant The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933), with Charles Laughton portraying Henry as a gluttonous but endearing buffoon, was followed by the equally popular The Scarlet Pimpernel (d. Harold Young, 1935), and Rembrandt in 1936.<br />
  25. 25. The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933) <br />The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933) <br />
  26. 26. While Korda preferred flamboyance to accuracy and aimed mainly at female audiences, Balcon at Gaumont made British film more realistic, male-orientated films like Jew Süss (d. Lothar Mendes, 1934), a judiciously pro-Jewish subject, and The Iron Duke (d. Victor Saville, 1935), a biopic of Wellington. <br />Tudor Rose (d. Robert Stevenson, 1936), about Lady Jane Grey, reflected the tragic repercussions of Henry VIII's tyrannical reign. Wilcox's films, like Nell Gwyn (1934), featuring his wife Anna Neagle, were patriotic and supportive of the monarchy, some at a critical time. <br />Victoria The Great (1937), coinciding with the abdication of Edward VIII, and Sixty Glorious Years (1938), released into a climate of pro-rearmament, were well received by critics and public alike.<br />
  27. 27. Henry V (1944) <br />
  28. 28. During the war, history functioned both as propaganda and escapism. The Ministry of Information urged filmmakers to emphasise Britain's heritage and history. Films like The Young Mr Pitt (d. Carol Reed, 1942) contained timely parallels between Napoleon and Hitler and Laurence Olivier's Henry V (1944) celebrated British military might. <br />The critics enthused over realistic contemporary subjects, but disapproved of the 'lurid' costume films being produced by Gainsborough Pictures. Nevertheless, melodramas like The Man in Grey (d. Leslie Arliss, 1943) and Madonna of the Seven Moons (d. Arthur Crabtree, 1944) were very popular at the box office. Fashion-starved female audiences enjoyed seeing Elizabeth Haffenden's extravagant designs; gowns of silks and satins decorated with lace, fur and jewels. <br />Furthermore, having lived through the war, women identified with Gainsborough's sexually liberated heroines, notably the glamorous 'highwayman' in The Wicked Lady (d. Arliss, 1945).<br />
  29. 29. Great Expectations 1946 <br />
  30. 30. Kind Hearts and Coronets 1949<br />
  31. 31. After the war, other studios took a more intellectual approach to the costume drama. Great Expectations (David Lean, 1946) was a lovingly crafted rendering of Dickens's classic novel and Lean'sOliver Twist (1948) also did well. <br />Korda's wooden Bonnie Prince Charlie (d. Anthony Kimmins, 1948) was, though, a costly mistake, while the main appeal of An Ideal Husband (1947), which Korda also directed, and Anna Karenina (d. JulienDuvivier, 1948) were Cecil Beaton's sumptuous costumes.<br />Ealing, committed to realism during the war, also approached historical subjects, though Nicholas Nickleby (d. Cavalcanti, 1947) lacked Lean's panache. Much more satisfying was the Edwardian crime comedy, Kind Hearts and Coronets (d. Robert Hamer, 1949), featuring Alec Guinness in eight roles.<br />
  32. 32.
  33. 33. The relative lack of costume films in the 1950s has been attributed to two factors: Britain's recent history provided ample source material, and there was a general decline in 'women's films', which wartime conditions had encouraged. <br />Filmgoers were also being entertained by the numerous Cinemascope spectacles coming from Hollywood. <br />A faithful version of Oscar Wilde's witty The Importance of Being Earnest (d. Anthony Asquith, 1952), filmed in colour, was one exception. <br />However, Hammer's The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and Dracula (1958), both directed by Terence Fisher, proved stylish interpretations of the original Gothic novels, their sequels continuing into the 1960s and beyond.<br />
  34. 34. A Man for all Seasons 1966<br />
  35. 35. While his New Wave colleagues were preoccupied by contemporary stories, Tony Richardson's Tom Jones (1963) was an outstandingly successful interpretation of Henry Fielding's 18th century novel. <br />American backing ensured other films, like David Lean'sLawrence of Arabia (1962), would be visually stunning. A Man for all Seasons (d. Fred Zinnemann, 1966), the most profitable period film of the 1960s, and Anne of The Thousand Days (d. Charles Jarrott, 1969), both won Oscars for costume design. <br />In Far From the Madding Crowd (d. John Schlesinger, 1967), Hardy's Wessex was compromised by the icons of 'Swinging London', Terence Stamp and Julie Christie, but Nicolas Roeg's cinematography compensated.<br />
  36. 36. The Devils (1971) <br />
  37. 37. In 1970, Christie re-appeared in The Go Between, (d. Joseph Losey), a finely crafted rendering of L.P. Hartley's novel, set in the summer of 1900. <br />Meanwhile, costume drama was revitalised by the success of television serials; Henry VIII and His Six Wives (d. WarisHussain, 1972) had Keith Michell reprising his television role. <br />The unconventional Ken Russell, who fluctuated between literature and fantasy, followed a successful version of D.H. Lawrence's Women in Love (1969), with The Devils (1971), castigated for its bad taste. The Music Lovers (1970), an extravagant biopic of Tchaikovsky, was censured but Russell was redeemed by the sensitive Mahler (1974). The more orthodox Murder on the Orient Express (d. Sidney Lumet, 1974) was a star-studded evocation of 1930s glamour.<br />In 1981 Chariots of Fire (d. Hugh Hudson), the true story of two athletes who competed at the 1924 Olympics, restored the prestige of British cinema. <br />
  38. 38. A Room with a View (1986)<br />
  39. 39. The most profitable costume films that followed were adaptations of literature, often described as 'heritage' films. They include Merchant/Ivory's versions of E.M. Forster's novels, beginning with the painterly A Room with a View (1986). <br />The team's success continued with Howards End (1992), a superb study of class relationships, and The Remains of the Day (1993), based on Kazuo Ishiguro's acclaimed novel. Emma Thompson's literate adaptation of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility (d. Ang Lee, 1995) was also one of the highlights of the 1990s. <br />But perhaps the biggest surprise was when Mike Leigh, best known for his critiques of modern suburbia, brought Gilbert and Sullivan vividly to life with Topsy-Turvy (1999).<br />
  40. 40. Though they now appear infrequently, costume dramas continue to attract audiences. <br />Despite the American input in productions like An Ideal Husband (d. Oliver Parker, 1999), House of Mirth (d. Terence Davies, 2000) and The Golden Bowl (d. James Ivory, 2000), their success depends on the talent of British actors, costume designers and art directors. <br />The considerable achievement of Gosford Park (d. Robert Altman, 2002), with an original screenplay, is testament to the enduring popularity and relevance of British costume drama to a modern audience.<br />

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