Monday, August 22, 2016

The Costumes of "The Adventures of Robin Hood"

I've been wanting to discuss the costumes in this film for quite some time, but unfortunately there are no screen captures readily available online, so I had to wait to have the time to take them myself!

(All photos are personal screen captures taken from "The Adventures of Robin Hood" 1938, copyright Warner Brothers and are used here for artistic study.)

I'm a huge Robin Hood fan, but I tend to be very old-style. I love the Disney version, and adore the Roger Lancelyn Green book, but really my favorite incarnation of this hero has to be the Errol Flynn film from the 30's. I love it all, from the fantastic cast, the traditional plotline, and the crazy colorful costumes.

Speaking of color! Did you know this was one of the first films to be completely in technicolor? I did not! In fact, for a long time I thought this film was originally done in B&W, mostly because so many of the old stills are in B&W! But this was one of the first really good technicolor films, and the costumes were obviously designed to really highlight the new technology. It makes for a crazy anachronistic style, but hey, Robin Hood is a legend and doesn't really belong to any one time period.

First off, some background! The Film Spectrum gives some great history on the movie, as does Roger Ebert. The gist of these articles is that this is one of Flynn and Olivia de Havilland's earliest films, Flynn did most of his own stunts, and the director was replaced partway through.

I wish I had some really good quality stills, but alas, we're working with a very old film here. Still, the colors are distinct precisely because of this lack of quality, so we manage to see all the details anyhow!

I love the jewel tones (however ridiculous), the slight art deco influence in the pattern of Marian's dress... and of course, adoring every close-up of her face. So gorgeous! (Did you know that in the old days they would put a silk stocking over the lens when filming a close-up for a female lead? That's why in shots such as these there is a slightly hazy, dreamy quality.)

The Merry Men get fun costumes here. Definitely a trend for the woods colors, but there are distinctions, like Little John's lovely blue tunic and red cap (and gold tights, though you can't see them here!)

It's not Robin Hood without tons of metal studs everywhere, right? Not even close to accurate, but tremendously fun embellishment!

One of my favorite parts of this film is Will Scarlet. Other films like to eliminate him, or cast him as an antagonistic character... but I love good old fashioned Will, who is Robin's right hand man, and properly dressed in scarlet. In this film he appears to have been somewhat blended with Alan a Dale, who makes no appearance.

I love the leather tunic that appears for Robin here! (No one is wearing anywhere near enough layers for England of this period, which makes sense considering that they were filming in California!)

This is not in any way a shade of purple that I like, but it weirdly works very well on Marian, despite the crazy synthetic silver.

It is difficult to make out the detail on all of the costumes, but I love the leather binding around the edge here.

And here is a good shot of the hat detail!

Here is a good look at the crazy pleats in Marian's sleeves.

I love the high/low belt contrast that prevails in the film. Such a flattering style, and necessary in an era before tightly fitted clothes were constructed.

Ah, chemistry!

And let's not forget the ridiculousness.... Guy of Gisbourne and the Sheriff of Nottingham in DAISY CHAINS!!! Bwhahaha

I love how ridiculous Prince John's metal studs are here. Just.... so military and perfect but completely impractical.

Here, enjoy Robin hamming it up in his 'disguise'.

Some more Marian eye-candy.

This is the first scene where Marian has fully transitioned to Robin's side, and she breaks from wearing rich colors to don something innocent and white (and very evocative of her saintly namesake).

The hat detail. The quirky eye! Flynn is just so great in this film.

I enjoy how the costumes of Prince John take perfection to a ridiculous level. Everything is balanced, even, straight lines, squares... it ought to be 'the height of art' but it just looks ridiculous.

I do enjoy Gisbourne's period appropriate neck slit here.

Let's enjoy that lovely contrast stitching on the sleeve, shall we?

Back to Marian! Here you can see some detail on the sleeves. They are just gorgeous and sparkly (and Elsa is envious!)

More sleeve detail! Crosshatched embroidery and beading all the way down. Also, an amazingly sparkly belt.

Here you can see the lovely ombre effect of the skirt.

We once again get an almost art deco trim, as Marian wears a very simple gown. The maroon velvet matches the maroon in Robin's outfit, so one can visually connect them.

Very hard to see this gown in full length, but here you can see the high/low belt combo and some of the sleeve lining.

I hate hate hate this dress so much. It is like she is trying to visually wear a sort of armor on her 'rescue mission' but it looks so modern and awful!

The embellishment on the cloak is gorgeous, but it cannot save the disaster that is the weird diamond pattern and awful puke green/silver combo. And what is with the creepy hand clasps? Why why why?

I didn't want to waste more space on this dress, but I had to point out that her skirt is actually an entirely different silver fabric, very similar to her wimple.

Including this photo to show Will Scarlet's "outlaw" outfit. Still boasting scarlet, but with a lot more Lincoln green.

Okay, I lied. I hate this dress too. How did anyone thing a) this was attractive and b) it looked medieval???

The belt is pretty. Also Gisbourne's outfit is pretty rocking except for that collar. WHAT IS THAT COLLAR???

There is nothing accurate about this Juliet-Wanna-Be dress, but it is so pretty! And I love her braids so much!

The braids! The sleeves! The collar is so not historical at all but it looks gorgeous on her!

And a rare backview of a gown!

Evil trio. Prince John wears his uniform rows of studs again, and you can kind of see a pattern in the velvet.

I don't hate this gown as much as the others... in fact I like how Hufflepuff it looks. Unfortunately the trim reminds me of rick rack, which I hate with a passion. But man, Olivia de Havilland can really rock silver!

Full length view of the gown.

Closer view...

Marian has nothing but disgust for Prince John.

Once again Prince John wins at taking something that should be beautiful and making it look prissy. But I do think this is my favorite of his pieces.

It's a little sad that we never got to see Marian in a wedding dress or a Lincoln Green "woodswoman" gown, but that really wouldn't have suited de Havilland at all.  And it's really weird because I love this film so much, and I always forget just how ugly many of Marian's dresses are, probably because Olivia de Havilland is SO beautiful, that she can actually make the ugliest dress ever seem beautiful just because she is amaaazing.

Anyhow, if I ever recreated one of her gowns, I would either do the silver-and-magenta one, or the lovely ice-blue-and-silver one.

Which is your favorite?

Read More: 

1 comment:

Welcome to the discussion! Please note that due to chronic illness, I am no longer taking commissions of any kind.

Thank you for being polite and profanity free :)