The Undressing Women : The Function of Film Costume in Hollywood Film The Women from the 1930s and the 21 Century

University essay from Lunds universitet/Avdelningen för konsthistoria och visuella studier

Abstract: As the representation of people’s identity, dress reveals people’s characteristics, social status and most importantly, how people want to be “looked like”. The same theory can be applied to film costume, which is not only a purely visual spectacle but also an important element to sustain the entire film. Film costume on one hand helps to form the concepts and images of different characters and through the process of changing different costumes film narrative develops simultaneously. On the other hand since the change of dress can reveal social changes, thus film costume can represent the social changes for it is adopted from the daily dress, in this way the audiences can gain further understanding about the film. In my thesis I will discuss two different films (The Women, George Cukor, 1939 and The Women, Diane English, 2008) from the perspective of film costume, throughout the discussion I will examine how film costume in these two films helps to create the images of different characters, how film costume corresponds with the film narratives thus the audience can gain further understanding of the whole film through the help of film costume. At the same time, since these two films made in different periods, I intend to discuss how film costume reveals different images of women in these two periods through the method in which it helps to support different characters, and discuss the relationships between these different images and film narratives. Therefore, through my discussion I will examine and analyze one function of film costume as a method to form film characters, promote film narrative and create deep meanings of the film.

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