Friday, 26 April 2013

C is for... Costume Dramas

A well known fact about me is that I am a bit of a nana. I love my electric blanket, I like to sew, I don't like clubs or loud music, I love earl grey tea and anything lavender or rose scented (or flavoured for that matter), and I also love a good costume drama. I love, mostly, all the old outfits & makeup. Lots of the time they are a lot more decadent & elaborate than modern fashions, so there always seems to be something so lush & evocative about the way they dress in costume dramas.

I also think that lots of costume dramas seem to have really engaging & interesting stories. I think maybe it's because we have to suspend disbelief so much to get involved with the characters & really believe that they're real as everything's set in the past that you just get more lost in it somehow. I also think they differ from actual movies made in the past because we tend to look back in time through slightly rose-tinted glasses, so everything seems so much more lovely than what it probably really was. I could definitely pick more than 3 costume dramas that I love, but for now, here are the 3 that spring to mind as being my favourites.

3. Downton Abbey

I love Downton Abbey so much, partly because when it first started airing it was during the first time in my life I had ever seen amazing snow at home, and my memories of watching it are tied up with trekking through the snow from my flat to my mum's house in order to watch it with my family in front of a roaring fire with bottles of red wine & good food. Also because, though, it's absolutely brilliant- I get so involved with it. When my favourite character died I sobbed so hard I had difficulty breathing. I think that's because the writing & acting are pitch perfect- it's a drama designed to suck you in, from charm-your-socks off lovely & kickass Lady Sybil, to the drama of Mary & Matthew, to pantomime villains that you love to hate but also secretly love in Thomas & O'Brian, and to stiffly proper but extremely loveable Mr Carson. You can't help but be charmed by every single character. Plus the actual house and grounds of Downton itself are beautiful, from the sprawling green gardens, to the candlelit dining room.

2. Marie Antoinette

Firstly, Sofia Coppola is my favourite director of all time, and her visual aesthetic and lethargic tales of lost young females have had a profound effect on my life, particularly when I was a teenager. My favourite movie of her is still The Virgin Suicides, but I chose this as a favourite costume drama, because visually, it's probably her best work. Marie Antoinette is a downright damn beautiful movie to look at. Firstly, it was shot in the Palace of Versailles, which is pretty much one of the most beautiful buildings on earth. I was really lucky to get to visit there when I took a trip to Paris with a friend during university & it was one of the most amazing things I've seen. The gardens are fantastic and the interior is just breathtaking. (You can actually take a virtual tour now on Google Street View which is brilliant.) Not only that, but the movie is quite heart breaking, and looks at Marie Antoinette's like in a sympathetic light. It's quiet & unassuming as a movie, there is not much dialogue, and a lot of the artifice of her surroundings coupled with Kirsten Dunst's fragile smallness speaks most of the volumes. Rose Byrne is really great in it too. Also, this movie won an Oscar for the costume design, and if you watch it you'll see why.

3. Poirot

I can barely even explain why I love Poirot so much, I just do. I love David Suchet as Poirot for a start, he is hilarious and captivating as the fussy, genius, Belgian detective. I can't imagine a more interesting character for a private detective. The costumes are AMAZING- the women are always so beautifully dressed, and the hair on this show is always swoon-worthy. Also the men look pretty fly too- lots of waistcoats & dapper moustaches. It's set in the 10s, 20s & 30s and the sets are always visually interesing & beautiful. The episodes I love most are the ones set in places like Eygpt & Iraq during the time of British rule, when Poirot & Hastings are off on some river cruise or staying with friends who are part of an archaeological dig. Everyone swanning about in floor length dresses and feathers and linen suits in the sandy sunshine is amazing. Mostly though, I love Agatha Christie's masterful stories. The intrigue behind the motivation for the crimes, the masterful unfolding of the plot, Poirot's 'little grey cells' ticking over the details to unveil the twist at the end. I am NEVER able to guess who the killer is. Also, people say things like 'tally ho', 'frightfully sorry' and 'I say!' which I quite like too.


  1. Replies
    1. I think we should start bringing that back as a phrase.

  2. Nothing beats that Marie Antoinette photo shoot. Timeless. God I love it.

    Will have to check out Poirot now. Never saw it but the photo alone made me giggle, and the attention to detail looks perfect.