Thursday, May 13, 2004

Period films--sad, but true

"However authentic the detail, however correct the costumes, however accurate the characterizations, one element of Hollywood period films was always wrong: the women. Whether it was ancient Babylon or pre-war Vienna, the women's cosmetics, hair styles, and apparel were a compromise between the era of the story and the year of production. The same still holds true today--and the reason for it has yet to change...

If a period picture suddenly appeared depicting women correctly attired for that period, the shock for the uninitiated would be great. Fans would be appalled at the appearance of their favorie star. And their favorite star would be equally outraged."

Brownlow, Kevin. The Parade's Gone By...New York: Alfred A. Knopf 1968, p245.


  1. All movies modify history to suit the premise. Details are always what suffer. That said, I'm curious are there particular examples this author is talking aobut?

  2. He didn't cite any specific examples, but the comment was made in the context of a chapter on art direction in the Silent Era. Auteurs like Griffith and Von Stroheim tried to attain authenticity, but there were others, like William Cameron Menzies, who "were anxious not to alienate the fans with a welter of period detail."