Wardrobe lust Wednesday*: Carey Mulligan
Allow me to share with you the craziest review of a movie I’ve ever heard. I was leaving the cinema after seeing Far from the Madding Crowd yesterday and two ladies behind me were debriefing. I had to bite my tongue when they said “Well it was a bit boring, wasn’t it? We’ll see something with a bit more action next time”. Had we been in the same movie!? How much more drama could you get than what comes as standard issue in a Thomas Hardy story, namely (without spoiling this particular plot too much) unnatural disasters, premature death (both real and fake), loss of virtue, grinding poverty and simmering romance, all set against stunning rural, pastoral and clifftop scenery? And even if all that failed to grab your attention, what about Carey Mulligan (as Bathsheba Everdene) and her wardrobe? (all photos from here)
I make no secret that I’m a big fan of bonnet dramas, and I do admire the costumes in many of them. But not all historical films set my heart beating the way this one did (Matthias Schoenarts in his role as Gabriel Oak was only partially responsible for that! I promise it was mainly the costumes!).
I’m not sure how faithful the wardrobe department was to Hardy’s novel as I haven’t read it (it’s now high on my list of must-reads) – maybe Bathsheba’s dresses aren’t described in great detail and costume designer Janet Patterson had to use her imagination. Either way, the viewer is in for a visual treat and can take away styling tips that are still relevant today.
Bathsheba isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty and in many of the scenes she’s mucking in alongside the men she employs on her farm. A lot of her work outfits seem to be a variation on a shade of denim blue and she even wears a bandanna around her hair – again, I’m not sure if that would have been the done thing at the time but it shows she’s not to be messed with, even when she’s the one getting messy.
I’ve never seen this shade of blue used in a story set in this time (the 1870s) and especially not in an English drama. The denim colour kind of gives things a frontier feel. I’m sure the colour itself would have existed, perhaps achieved by using woad? Or maybe this was actually around about the time that indigo or even synthetic dyes made blue a lot more accessible to the mass market?
Among all the photos (taken from here) I couldn’t find a good one of the most denim-y dress, but here’s a view from the back. It’s a totally unembellished dress apart from the buttons down the front and the little stand collar. But that blue! It’s far, far from boring!
*Yes, usually I do Wellness Wednesday. But after seeing this film, I just wanted to talk to someone about it! And you, lucky reader, are that someone. If I keep seeing films with fabulous costumes, I may even make Wardrobe Lust Wednesday a thing. On the other hand, if I keep seeing films with Matthias Schoenarts in them, I may have to make plain old Lust Wednesday a thing. Tee hee… That man has certainly got the strong, silent, extremely patient and outdoorsy type thing nailed (I saw him in A Little Chaos too, which I did not enjoy as a film, but he kind of made it bearable!). How about you – have you seen Far from the Madding Crowd? And are you lusting over the costumes (and male leads!) too?
Some characters are seen only fleetingly. For example, the film skirts over the sub-plot involving Fanny Robin (Juno Temple.) We are given little sense of what drives Sergeant Troy’s infatuation with her and even the scene in which she goes to the wrong church on the day of her wedding is rushed. Temple is very affecting but her role is turned into little more than a glorified cameo.