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Costume Films

Actress in costume
3 Stars Excellent
Stunning costumes

AND a great film
2 Stars Quite Good
Costumes so-so

BUT a great film
1 Star Not really
Inauthentic costumes

Boring film

  Please note that this film recommendaton page will not be updated anymore.
© Miramax
3 StarsRestoration
The best, the absolute very best ever yet for the 17th century in my opinion. The film is set in the 1660s in England (naturally, see the title.. *L*) The costumes are stunning, incredible, every time I watch the film I sit there with my jaw dropped open, though the women's silhouettes are not quite right, something that happens in just about every film, because of a different silhouette/waist heightrequired for period costumes. Plus, apart from the fantastic actors and actresses (Robert Downey Jr, Meg Ryan, Sam Neil as King Charles II, Hugh Grant) is the film itself just wonderful.
Watch it! They even get the silly petticoat breeches right! 
Note added on 14.01.2001: The far too tall walking stick which Charles II carries around is wrong, I couldn't find one single piece of evidence for those in the period.

Costume Designer: James Acheson
Director: Michael Hoffman
Music: James Newton Howard
United Kingdom, 1995. Available on Video.
The Draughtman's Contract
Contract © British

Film Institute
3 StarsThe Draughtman's Contract
I simply adore this film! Peter Greenaway is fantastic in all his films, but this erotic, sensuous film is my favourite. Shot in Groombridge palace, a beautiful 17th century estate with a famous, immaculately kept English style garden (I visited the enchanting place and truly loved it), this film with its entrancing music is highly recommendable. Yes, there is artistic license in the costume colours (first all except Neville in white, at the mysterious end it is reversed, but the cut is stunning. Watch it, you will be caught up in it!
Costume Designer: Sue Blane
Director: Peter Greenaway
Music: Michael Nyman
United Kingdom, 1982. Available on Video.
The Man in the Ironmask
The Man in the
Iron Mask
© United Artists
1 StarThe Man in the Iron Mask
Well, 'everybody' raved about this film when it came out, but I admit I was quite bored. Probably because I really can't stand diCaprio? Anyway, I kept wondering during this film which year it was supposed to take place in, and there are glitches in Louis' costume, let alone and let us not talk of the Musketeers' costumes. James, James, you can do so much better than this, as Restoration proves, but I bet the Americans who made this film couldn't get their act together and wanted a 'modern' look. Bah! Regarding historical facts there was as much fantasy in it as in the costumes. But it is still an entertaining film, because it is worth watching for exactly the Musketeers!
Costume Designer: James Acheson
Director: Randall Wallace
Music: Nick Glenny-Smith
USA, 1998. Available on Video.
Plunkett & Macleane
Plunkett &
© PolyGram
2 StarsPlunkett & Macleane
I bet not that many have heard of this film? Robert Carlyle is one of my favourite actors, so damn cute. Anyway, this film is a weird mixture, difficult to describe but I was highly entertained in the cinema. Jake Scott was a video clip director before, and this can be seen and felt, only sometimes to the film's disadvantage, and usually to its advantage. The costumes gave a very good feeling of the 18th century, though they surely weren't authentic throughout. I loved the film. Go and watch it when you have the chance!
Costume Designer: Janty Yates
Director: Jake Scott
Music: Craig Armstrong
United Kingdom, 1999. Not available on Video yet.
Cyrano de Bergerac
Cyrano de Bergerac
© Union Generale
2StarsCyrano de Bergerac
Aaahh! The one and only. *flicks the hanky out and dabs away tears* The film is so wonderfully romantic. The costumes are not authentic, thus the two stars, but the film is so wonderful, enjoy it and and its costumes, the whole visual feast. The French are great in historical films, they just don't have a clue about authentic period costumes. If you can't understand French sufficiently (including myself), then watch it in the original French version with subtitles, that's the second best. And don't forget the tissues! 
Costume Designer: Franca Squarciapino
Director: Jean-Paul Rappeneau
Music: Jean-Claude Petit
France, 1990. Not available on Video any longer.
Le Bossu
Le Bossu
© 20th Century Fox
2starsLe Bossu
A fantastic film and highly recommendable, the two stars are for the exciting plot, the gorgeous actors and all the rest. BUT please do me a favour, do not try to copy any costume from the film. It is supposed to be set in first 1700 and then 1716, but I'm afraid the costumes are not right at all. They put bits and pieces from around 100 years together: boots of the 1630s with a tricorne hat of the 1720s... but it doesn't matter when it comes to recommending the film: it is wonderful! And Daniel Auteuil is a truly gifted actor (but Vincent Perez lost his handsome looks I am afraid to say...) and honestly, the cast is perfect down to the smallest part. The evil villain is just wonderfully evil...
The film is in French with subtitles, which adds a lot to the charms and flair.
Costume Designer: Christian Gasc
Director: Philippe de Broca
Music: Philippe Sarde
France, 1997. Available on video.
Dangerous Liasons
Dangerous Liaisons
© Warner Bros.
3 StarsDangerous Liaison
Oh yes of course, how could I forget this film in the first place? Thanks, Anne Sophie, for recommending it. Just like she said, the dressing scene of both the Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont are the very best in the film and just too good, especially since it is depicted absolutely authentically.
Costume Designer: James Acheson
Director: Stephen Frears
Music: George Fenton (Bach & Vivaldi)
Novel: Choderlos de Laclos
USA 1998. Available on Video
© Miramax
2 StarsRidicule
"Set in the court of Louis XVI in 1780's France, is a sharp, satirical depiction of the frivolous excesses of court life." That's what Miramax says about the film and I can only agree. It is a very entertaining film, with many twists and left one with a swallow and a shudder at the society it depicts. The film is in French with subtitles. The costumes do look good to me.
Costume Designer: Christian Gasc
Director: Patrice Leconte
Music: Antoine Duhamel
France, 1996. Available on Video
Rob Roy
Rob Roy
© United Artists
2 StarsRob Roy
Merci, Ben, I forgot this one as well because I didn't like the film itself that much, but Tim Roth as the evil aristocrat is absolutely great, that much I do admit. And his costume looks very good. I can't say much about the 'Highlander' costume of Liam Neeson, but he's got nice legs... *chuckle*
Costume Designer: Sandy Powell
Director: Michael Caton-Jones
Music: Carter Burwell
Novel: Sir Walter Scott
USA 1995. Available on Video
Elizabeth I
© PolyGram
3 StarsElizabeth
I finally watched this film on video. I liked it lots! I just loved the imagery in it, they managed to recapture portraits of the young Elizabeth, just incredible. Especially the coronation. I couldn't believe how much Kate Blanchett looked like Elizabeth. Find the contemporary portrait and pause the coronation scene, you'll be amazed! Actually, I preferred the imagery here, gloomy, dark often and then again extremely colourful and joyful, to Shakespeare in Love. But this is of course only a personal preference, like everything written here. Regarding the authenticity of the costumes, I cannot judge this, an expert of the Elizabethan period could, it looked good to me, but really isn't my period.
Costume Designer: Alexandra Byrne
Director: Shekhar Kapur
Music: David Hirschfelder
United Kingdom, 1998. Available on Video.
Shakespeare in Love
Shakespeare in 
Love © Miramax
2StarsShakespeare in Love
Yes, everyone was right, it is great and most entertaining! Everyone is cast wonderfully (except Ben Affleck as Ned, I am afraid, he is just too American, he lacks the culture of the others, but maybe he will learn). And also admittedly Paltrow is very good and manages a mostly convincing English accent. Well, the costumes... I am no expert on the late 16th century at all, but the skirts of the ladies just didn't look right. Yet again. Who cares! As long as people bear in mind that the male and female costumes look great but are not authentic when it comes to the details. Nevertheless, the film looks lavish and great and gives a wonderful impression of the later reign of Elisabeth I. Oh yes, I think for once a film which deserved all the Oscars!
Costume Designer: Sandy Powell
Director: John Madden
Music: Stephen Warbeck
USA and UK?, 1998. Not available on Video yet.
La Reine Margot
La Reine Margot
© Renn Productions
3 StarsLa Reine Margot
Mais oui, magnifique! Opulent, beautiful, entrancing, what else shall I say? The costumes look so magnificent, that I keep staring at the screen, wondering if I should re-enact this period too. If you haven't seen this film yet, I highly recommend to do so. I cannot say if the costumes are authentic, this is not my period of knowledge, and because it is a French film, knowing that the French are not good with their authenticity while making the most wonderful historical films, I assume the costumes are not that authentic. Nevertheless, it is such a feast for the eyes, that I highly recommend the film. Isabelle Adjani speaks for the sexy factor herself, and Pascal Greggory (on the picture as Anjou), together with Thomas Kretschmann dressed all in pretty blue as Anjou's lover Nancay, form such a sexy evil couple.
Costume Designer: Moidele Bickel
Director: Patrice Chéreau 
Music: Goran Bregovic
France, 1994. Available on Video.
Dangerous Beauty
Dangerous Beauty
© Bedford Falls
2 StarsDangerous Beauty
Great film! Very, very entertaining and certainly worth to watch, the imagery is just beautiful and grandiose.  The costumes do look quite authentic to me, although I am by no means very knowledgeable in the costume of Venice in the 16th century and have heard that they are not authentic, but the usual 'idea of the period' and this idea was caught very well. Thank you, Outlaw, for recommending this one.
Costume Designer: Gabriella Pescucci
Director: Marshall Herskovitz
Music: George Fenton
1998. Available on Video
Henry V
Henry V 
© Renaissance Films
2 StarsHenry V
Yes! Yes! Yes! My all-time favourite of Branagh's Shakespeare adaptations. Good Lord, the battle scene of Agincourt, and his speech "St. Crispin's Day!", this battle scene in slow motion, with all the truth of a medieval battle, its horror, dirt, blood and pain, makes the hair at the back of my neck stand up every time I see it and tears dwell in my eyes. Admittedly, there are lots of costume glitches (that's why the two stars), but it doesn't matter! Watch the film and wake up at its end from another world and another time.
Costume Designer: Phyllis Dalton
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Music: Patrick Doyle
United Kingdom, 1989. Available on Video.
© Paramount
I know, many people like this film, and it is quite entertaining, but it is a fantasy film, nothing historical about the costumes, not eventhe historical figures themselves are correct. But for a fantasy, set in history, it is great!
Costume Designer: Charles Knode
Director: Mel Gibson
Music: James Horner
USA, 1995. Available on Video
© Adventure Pictures
3 StarsOrlando
Fantastic! This film is a visual feast as well. This adaptation of the novel by Virginia Woolf was directed by Sally Potter, and Tilda Swinton as Orlando is convincing both as the male and the female Orlando. The costumes are lavish, starting in 16th century England (do not miss out on Quentin Crisp as Elizabeth I, the best old Elizabeth I have ever seen) and moves on across the 18th century towards the contemporary times. This film is a literary as well as visual jewel. And Jimi Somerville, singing as the Angel in the end always makes me cry... I won't say too much here, go and rent the movie, I am sure you will not be disappointed. The costumes are beautiful, apart from the very film itself which is a treat.
Costume Designer: Sandy Powell, Dien van Straalen
Director: Sally Potter
Music: David Bedford et al.
United Kingdom, 1992. Available on Video and DVD
Ever After
Ever After
© 20th Century Fox
3 StarsEver After (Fairy tale!)
Beautiful, romantic, lavish, colourful, funny, moving and dashing fairy tale Cinderella! Okay, now you ask about the costumes... well, it is supposed to be set in France in the 16th century, and some costumes actually look very authentic now and then, but come on, it's a fairy tale! And the costumes are truly great, because again a mixture of periods, but in a wonderful way, believe me, if you are only a little romantic, you are going to love this film! Did you like Princess Bride? Then you will like this one here. And the female figure is strong and a fighter, witty and funny. Each and every character has something loveable about them, even the evil stepmother! Anjelica Houston at her very best as ever. I loved the film and kept sighing 'Oh I love this!' during it, I am sure you will too! And just one hint... Leonardo da Vinci as the fairy godmother... do I have to say more?
Costume Designer: Jenny Beavan
Director: Andy Tennant
Music: George Fenton
USA, 1998. Available on Video and DVD.
© Columbia TriStar
1star Marquise
Horrible! Disappointing! Boring and annoying! Don't bother to pay even a penny for this film. We three, two members of L'Age d'Or and I, were watching the film the other night and just stared blankly at the screen or being annoyed because there is not only a plot completely missing, no point in it at all, no story, no logic, but the actors and actresses are terrible except for Bernard Giraudeau as Molière, the only bright sight in the film. Sophie Marceau is certainly highly overrated, and not even her good looks made the film bearable. Now the costumes... *screams* OHMIGOD! What on earth were they supposed to be??? It was meant to be set at the court and France per se in the 1660s. Excusez moi?! The only authentic thing in this film regarding the 1660s was the beautiful setting of Vaux-le-Vicomte, Nicolas Fouquet's château and gardens. The rest is horror.
Costume Designer: I don't know, it didn't say who it was, which is probably for the better or I would tear this person asunder here. Shame, shame upon him/her!
Director: Véra Belmont
Music: Jordi Savall 
France, 1997. Available on Video.
All for Love
All For Love
© BBC (UK)
3 StarsAll For Love
I loved this one when I saw it on TV being over in England! *sighs happily* Based on Robert Louis Stevenson's St. Ives, the film tells the story of a dashing young French Hussar captain (Jean Marc Barr, sexy French accent!) during the Napoleonic wars. Captured in battle he is sent to a prisoner of war camp in the Scottish Highlands, run by Major Farquhar (Richard E. Grant, how does this actor manage to look just right in costume? His face is perfect for this period! And the upper-class British accent...) In short order he falls in love with a local girl (Anna Friel, cute! cute!), who is living with her aunt (Miranda Richardson, GREAT!) strikes up a friendship with the Major, and discovers that his long lost grandfather, who fled from France during the revolution, lives just up the road! Spirited performances from all the cast and some memorable lines make this an absolutely entertaining film to watch. The costumes looked great to me, but then it's bound to be, isn't it? Napoleonic period is always spot on in British productions.
Costume Designer: Susannah Buxton
Director: Harry Hook
Music: Not given
United Kingdom, 1998.
Bram Stoker's 
© Columbia Pictures
2StarsBram Stoker's Dracula
Do I have to say anything? I guess everyone knows this film and has seen it, and by Jove, aren't the costumes absolutely stunning? Of course they have nothing at all to do with anything historically correct, not really, but they are truly breathtaking, especially Dracula's...
Costume Designer: Eiko Ishioka
Director: Francis Coppola
Music: Wojciech Kilar
USA, 1992. Available on Video and DVD.
© Sony Pictures 

I can't give a personal rating for this film either, because I just simply haven't watched it yet, but I did receive a mail praising it highly and recommending the film. Therefore, thanks to Baroque Fan for reminding me to take a look at this film, I shall rent or buy it soon. Oh, and the soundtrack is also supposed to be very good, if not spectacular.
Costume Designer: Olga Berluti and Anne de Laugardière
Director: Gérard Corbiau
Music: Original music by Riccardo Broschi. Additional music by Johann Adolf Hasse, Georg Friedrich Händel, Giovanni Battista Pergolesi and Nicola Antonio Porpora
France, Belgium, Italy, 1994. Available on Video and DVD.
3 Stars Hook
Oh I just love this film! The costumes are fantastic, fantasy pirates, just what I always envisioned it to look like as a child. This is what pirates SHOULD have been like! I have watched it several times and will happily watch it again when it comes again on TV. Dustin Hoffman as the evil captain is just brilliant. 
Costume Designer: Anthony Powell
Director: Steven Spielberg
Music: John Williams
USA, 1991.
Scarlet Pimpernell
The Scarlet 
2 Stars The Scarlet Pimpernel
Yummy, yummy, yummy! How Richard E. Grant manages to look that dashing in all period clothes while being rather a bit plain in 21st century clothing is a mystery to me. I really enjoyed the BBC series, the first as well as the second part and would recommend it to everyone who likes period series. A Scarlet Pimpernel how it should be like.
Costume Designer: Howard Burden
Director: Patrick Lau
Music: Michal Pavlícek
United Kingdom.
2 Stars Longitude
Another English TV series which I enjoyed. Not quite as dashing and sometimes a little bit boring but overall fascinating and I did like the period clothing very much.
Parallel stories: 18th century Harrison builds the marine chronometer for safe navigation at sea; 20th century Gould is obsessed with restoring it.
Director: Charles Sturridge  
United Kingdom.
Once again I cannot give a personal rating, because I haven't actually watched the film. Nevertheless I received the recmmendations by several and would therefore like to include the film as well.
Costume Designer: Theodor Pistek
Director: Milos Forman
Music: Christopher Palmer, Marc-Antoine Charpentier
France, USA 1989.
Girl with Pearl Earring
Girl with a Pearl Earring

3 StarsGirl with a Pearl Earring
This is definitely a film which has to be seen at the pictures. It is utterly beautiful, the filming itself is breathtaking, stunning in fact. Landscapes, shot with filters that make them truly look like Dutch genre paintings of the 17th century, especially the 1660s. Many scenes which look so very much like all those paintings (not only of Vermeer but others of the Golden Age of Dutch painting as well), that they seem to be masterpieces come to life.
Scarlett Johansson as Griet the maid looks amazingly like the actual girl in the actual painting, and Colin Firth is, I have to say it, subtly sexy as Jan Vermeer. That long hair really does wonders for him. In fact, I think I was rather enamoured with this particular Vermeer.
All in all it is a very, very beautiful film, very, very artsy, and - I have to be honest - very boring. perhaps being 'artsy' makes it inevitable so. However, do go and see it, the imagery is stunning, and so is the acting performance throughout.
Regarding the costumes: they give a very good view of the period, but I have to say using metal grommets on Griet's bodice in a close-up shot was just a no-no which physically hurt me. How difficult would it have been to make proper hand sewn ones? Furthermore, the more upper class the costumes get the less correct they appear to be. However, let's not quibble, it is and remains stunningly beautiful and captures the Netherlands in the 1660s most breathtakingly.
Costume Designer: Dien van Straalen
Director: Peter Webber
Music: Alexandre Desplat
United Kingdom, Luxembourg, 2003.

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