film Vanity Fair, starring Reese Witherspoon is likely to enthral costume
lovers everywhere, but perhaps annoy purists who find this condensed,
adapted and tinkered with version of William Makepeace Thackeray's novel of
the same name, not as authentic as they would like it to be in relation to
the original text.
loved it for the colourful extravaganza it was.
you love costume you will drool not only at the costume in this film, but
the attention to detail in many areas including the execution of the
hairstyles for both men and women. It is true Reese Witherspoon didnít sound
like any English person Iíve ever met, but it didnít matter, neither did
Kevin Costner when he played Robin Hood and that was a huge success!
Regency England, Waterloo, Baden Baden and India at various stages through
to the Romantic era, it is a romp through peace, war and bankruptcy and
deceit. All this took in about 40 years of the early 19th century.
Others have suggested that the second hour of the film drags - not for me.
I could have happily enjoyed another hour had the director chosen to make a
longer film concentrating more on the development of the characters. But in
general terms the film timing at 140 minutes was good and I left the cinema feeling I
enjoyed the film far more than either Phantom or Aviator, and I enjoyed both
of those very much too.
been really put off by the reviews of the film Vanity Fair as so many of the
reviewers slated it and we almost didn't go to see it. But go we did,
and I found that after 20 minutes I put my notebook in my handbag and
thought I just want to enjoy looking at this.
a colourful extravaganza and I loved it and far preferred it to
But we all seek different things in films and of course it is difficult to
compare two such very different topics. I was enraptured by the
costume, the fabrics and the colours. Seeing gorgeous raw silk pelisse
coats, captivating variations on Spencers and marvellous colourful
exotic Kashmir shawls artfully draped all alongside accurate hairstyling was
for me a sensory treat.
reviewers have described it as Bollywood, and they may well have a point.
There are no half measures on presenting an embellished setting and the
scenes at Vauxhall are unreal and almost dream like so much is going on in
the background. But I enjoyed the spectacular, colourful, rich scenes
flooded with stimulating hues juxtaposed against each other. I would
happily go and see it again because I just adored the costume and the
fantastic fascinating hairstyle depictions. So many of the hairstyles
were carefully crafted to be just like many I have seen on the Regency and
Romantic costume plates Iíve owned for years.
men were not neglected either and are as exquisitely adorned as much as the
women are. They had silk outfits or military uniform that easily
competed with the colourful flamboyant silks worn by the women. The
result is an intoxicating splash of colour that it's hard to catch
everything that's going on even when you understand costume, there is just
so much visually to see.
chuckled with amusement at the unexpected matter of fact wig scene with
Matilde Crawley played by Eileen Atkins when she suddenly removed it as so
many people of the era must have done. Geraldine McEwenís red wig was
always a work of art. It had the finest of fine little dainty ringlets
at the forehead, each one finer than your little finger and the look was
strangely unusual enough to become a contemporary fashion fad.
Geraldine McEwan was always amusing just looking at her in her eccentric
outfits. Look out for her marvellous turbans and the fantastical
Apollo knots worn in later years.
jewellery was a modern Hollywood style interpretation of the extravagant
parures and pieces made
popular after Napoleon's expeditions and which suggested Eastern influence
so fashionable at the time of the book. The jewellery which comes from the
House of Chanel Jewellers is superlative and I do hope we see some of it in
contemporary costume jewellery ranges.
costume may well have had a modern day make over to increase its vibrant
effect on screen. It was sometimes like seeing decorations on a
Christmas tree. If you love colour and pretty things as I do, you'll
enjoy this. But if you prefer dull, drab scenes shot in half light as
in misty foggy miserable dramas, Dickens style with a Miss Haversham covered
in greyed cobwebs, you won't like this film. I know which I prefer.
Maybe for me it was extra pleasurable because my husband and I sometimes go
to Bath for the day and we recognised immediately the Georgian street scenes
Purists who want it to follow the book precisely should realise it is an
adaptation and that an adaptation is just that - adapted. It is after
all, a long book with fine detail by Thackeray. Reese Witherspoon as
Becky Sharpe managed to convey an artful personality. Perhaps it was
not quite as obvious as her scheming version in the book, but I found it
satisfying enough that she seemed to always manage to manoeuvre herself into
a situation that she worked to her advantage. She climbed her way up
the social ladder, wrangling invitations to mix with aristocrats all in an
effort to gain complete social acceptance as poor girl made good.
film does fairly race through the book and before you know it they are at
the Battle of Waterloo which suddenly jumps at you far sooner than it ought.
The night of the ball before the Battle of Waterloo of 1815 reminded me of a
scene in Gone With The Wind where news of renewed battle changes the
atmosphere at the social gathering too. Then the Vanity Fair battle
field reminded me of the GWTW battle scene too. In the Prince Regent
soiree scene I felt elements of Moulin Rouge emerge as the exotic dancers
did their piece, but it didn't spoil it for me that there was a sense of
familiarity about it even though it is true it does rip off scenes from
other well known films. After all film is fantasyland and this film is
much more to my taste than any Rambo type film would ever be.
it's the story and the fine nuances of character you are after, the lengthy
book would be a better choice, but if you just like great costuming, the
look of fabrics and costume ideas and glorious sets, just go see it or get
the DVD. I
really enjoyed this film and would give it 9 out of 10.
film was directed by Mira Nair and starred Reese Witherspoon. 2hrs
10mins UK PG
If you enjoyed this
film or films like it you may be interested in the page here about the new
film - THE YOUNG VICTORIA.
In costume terms The Young
Victoria film immediately follows the timing of Vanity Fair.
If you like this page then please share it with your friends
For more information about Film Resources click on the titles
For superb Victorian or Edwardian re-enactment costumes in USA, try the reproduction costume range at:
Fashion-Era.com looks at women's costume and fashion history and analyses the mood of an era. Changes in technology, leisure, work, cultural and moral values. Homelife and politics also
contribute to lifestyle trends, which in turn influence the clothes we wear. These are the changes that make any era of society special in relation to the study of the costume of a period.
Fashion-Era.com can take no responsibility for any information on the site which may cause you error, loss or costs incurred from use of the information and links either directly or
indirectly. This site is owned, designed, written and developed by author: Pauline Thomas and Guy Thomas. This site is designed to be viewed in 1024 X 768 or higher.
Before you write to me for costume/fashion help or information please, please consult the extensive sitemap which lists all our pages. If you still cannot find the answer after searching the site, then before you email me, please consider if you are prepared to make a donation to the website.
Donations Reader's donations help this site flourish, in particular donations encourage me to write more articles on fashion history as well as current trends. PayPal
allows anyone with a credit card to donate easily and securely. You may donate any sum you feel appropriate.