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True or Tinseltown

Article about: Hi anybody, I am about completig on my phd thesis in film studies on uniforms and masculinity in cinema, which won't cover the wide field of historical correctness - because my interests go

  1. #1

    Default True or Tinseltown

    Hi anybody,
    I am about completig on my phd thesis in film studies on uniforms and masculinity in cinema, which won't cover the wide field of historical correctness - because my interests go into another direction and I wouldn't be able to do so anyway. But every now and then, it is a crucial question whether a specific uniform is (more or less) correct - or a deliberate fake which is supposed to show off rather than convince.
    That's why I need your expertise with two films:

    Erich von Stroheims melodrama FOOLISH WIVES (1920/21, picture on the right): the uniform is supposed to be of "Count Sergius Karamzin, Capt. 3rd Hussars, Imper. Russ. Army" (according to the title card). Stroheim was quite an expert on uniforms and obsessive about detail - but in terms of the plot, the count is a fake. The time is the present (1919)

    The second film (and photo attached, on the left) is the german film operetta DER KONGRESS TANZT by Eric Charell 1931. The story takes place during the conference of Vienna 1815 and the protagonist is supposed to be Tsar Alexander. This one smells a lot like tinseltown to be - but you can never be sure with imperial extravaganza.

    Hope somebody out there can be of help.

    Thanks
    Rauffenstein
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #2

    Default Re: True or Tinseltown

    Not at all... I can't see how a film maker would alter a uniform in order to 'show off' Especially in military films! In fact I think the film maker is 'showing off' by getting the uniform detail SPOT ON! that's far more impressive.

  3. #3

    Default Re: True or Tinseltown

    Yes and no, Woody: it is a truism of costume design that what is real doesn't necessarily look realistic on the screen - quite the contrary. It depends on the expectations of the specific audience, which has a different knowledge of, say, the uniforms of the Napoleon era than of contemporary uniforms as e.g in the WWII propaganda films. The lesser the knowledge, the stronger are factors that rely on vague connotations and anachronistic ideas of e.g. phyisical attractivity etc.
    Best
    Rauffenstein

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