Wednesday, June 22, 2011

T r a n s f o r m a t i o n

Pretty Woman (1990, directed by Gary Marshal) was admittedly my favourite movie as a young girl, we had it on video (what's that? It's a big boxy rectangle thing that we used to use before DVDs and BluRay took over the video stores! I can't joke too much though, because yesterday I went to borrow Betty Blue from our uni library and as joy rushed through me when I found it available on the shelf, absolute shock quickly took over once I discovered the casing was not extra protection for the dvd inside, it was actually a video! Thus I had to leave that one behind, but am now really wishing we still had a VCR). The point is though, that I fell in love with the fairy tale story in Pretty Woman  -working woman (literally!) finds a handsome man who is nothing but amazing to her, and transforms her world into one of love and luxury. The most interesting part being Julia Roberts' transformation from call girl to woman of great elegance. It's even more interesting though to see earlier films which would have influenced these transformation narratives.

Today's class screening of Roman Holiday (1953, directed by William Wyler) features an on-screen transformation with Audrey Hepburn, but this time it is a Princess transforming herself into a different identity. A beautiful, yet conservative looking 'girl next door (princess next grande door?)' gets her hair cut and rolls up her sleeves of her dress, to release a new sexy, modern and 'cool' woman. (The youtube video below shows the haircut scene, with the hairdresser displaying so well the stress behind a risk; going from 'safe' long hair, to stylish new short hair).

These scenes on transformation seem to further push the concept of consumerism -a way of encouraging women to spend money on haircuts, new clothes, and accessories, so that they could fashion themselves into a desired 'personality' that corresponds with film stars. 
The film industry was often seen as a partner to advertising in the promotion of style-conscious consumerism (Berry 200, page 12). 

The other extract we watched was the opening of Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961, directed by Blake Edwards where the concept of couture dress as 'spectacle' is displayed so well. The contrast of high fashion being worn while drinking a morning coffee and eating a pastry, while standing on the street looking in the Tiffany store window is just incredible -not so much for our generation of film, since we have grown accustomed to seeing such scenes, but imagine yourself in 1961 watching such a juxtaposition! The lighting in the opening scene was the first thing to inspire me, it is that fresh, early morning light that gives compliments any flaws that midday sun has no mercy for -also makes the taxi's front lights look like slight sparkles of glitter as it rolls down the New York street. (See youtube video below)

Reference: Berry, S. 2000 Screen Style: Fashion and femininity in 1930s Hollywood. off to work on my essay question and finish a reading for tomorrow (I can confidently dub myself slowest reader at UTS -maybe even the world).


  1. I love all of these movies! I didn't do this subject, it sounds really good!

  2. Hey Ali, they're great aren't they! It's the first time the subject is offered, Pamela Church Gibson was flown over from London College of Fashion, to give our lectures which is really super too :) Some fun being brought into UTS ;))


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