Well, it seems that yesterday’s post in regard to some costuming aspects of the movie Tombstone garnered quite a of reaction, some good, some not-so-good, and some that simply missed the point. In regard to the latter, there’s not much that can be done so we’ll focus on the good and not-so-good elements.
First, just a little clarification. Our comments are focused on the wardrobe and costume aspects of the film and their historical or non-historical aspects. As to the plot, quality of acting, et al, we leave that to others (and yes, we do have our opinions but they really don’t belong here). Next, as for the non-historical aspects of the costume, it bears repeating that films, like all entertainment, they are just that: entertainment. As such, that is the first and foremost consideration.
In many instances, good costuming need not take a backseat to the film’s ultimate entertainment value and there are numerous period piece films and television productions that bear this out. And yes, even Westerns. 😉 However, at the same time, a director will envision the film as having a certain “look”. Working with the production designer and costume designer, the director will attempt to achieve this artistic vision. Sometimes this succeeds brilliantly and sometimes not.
The above is the Cinema 101 version. In practical terms, directors go about creating their vision in various ways ranging from camera angles, CGI effects, costume, etc. In the case of Westerns, they can be rooted in gritty reality such as with Unforgiven or something a bit more fantastical such as The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly or High Plains Drifter (Spaghetti Westerns sort of straddle both worlds here).
Even with the Tombstone and Wyatt Earp, the difference in approaches is obvious:
Having worked in a few productions over the years, we are very attuned to the practical aspects of costuming for film and television. What is be historically accurate may not read well on film. Also, in many ways, costuming can reflect more about the period that the production was made; it’s really obvious if one watches an old Roy Rogers movie or episodes of Gunsmoke.
So I’ll leave you with that for now. Happy Trails! 🙂