15 thoughts on “Pre-Raphaelite Fabulosity in Effie Gray

  1. As a huge HUGE Pre-Raphaelite fangirl AND 1850s reenactor, I’ve been looking forward to this one, though I haven’t had the opportunity to see it yet! The costumes look… eh… Pretty but a little “fantastical”. Like you, I’m SO relieved they put her hair up eventually, and the soft fullness at the sides is a very ’50s and very Pre-Raphaelite look. *STAMP OF APPROVAL*

  2. We studied Ruskin in Victorian Lit class last semester, and the teacher told the back story on Ruskin. I think the film was subtly done, given the distasteful elements of the purported story. The professor said that Ruskin thrust Milais and Effie together, so I thought it was surprisingly tasteful that this was not turned into a lusty costume romp (I would have been okay with that, too). Did you notice the only time Ruskin seemed to come alive in happy conversation was talking to Effie’s young sister? Ew. Julie Walters was superb as the social-climbing/soul-sucking/chilly old battleaxe, and this after we loved her so well as Mrs. Weasley! Range, people. It’s called Range.

    Yes, tastefully done in all ways. The film was a gorgeous series of color-washed tableaux, many veiled in mists. Loved this film. Loved the costumes, and you rightly describe the sartorial progression of the character. Elegantly done.

    I am surprised, however, that you did not mention that sumptuous blue velvet get-up sported by Lady Eastlake in the film. It is a jacket with lapels, and she is wearing a black hat and carrying a white fuzzy muff (apologies for any pubic hair trauma!), I believe. I confess that I have thought longingly of blue velvet since seeing the film. Alas, I am in Texas, and we didn’t even get a winter this time, so perhaps more velvet acquisitions next go-round.

    1. I didn’t mention the blue velvet outfit because I felt “meh” about it! It was fine, it just didn’t EXCITE me. (Muff – pubic hair trauma — BWAHAHAHHAHA)

  3. That’s my Easter film-viewing sorted, then. Just hope that Dakota Fanning’s English accent isn’t too English, as Effie grew up in Perth!

    Love the ribbon skirt. One of Ruskin’s letters to his mother from Venice mentions Effie having a dress decorated with little bunches of ribbon “like sugar plums” – Effie’s fondness for pretty dresses was another thing for Mrs R to disapprove of.

    1. I second that emotion re. her accent, which should have been upper-class Scots, as opposed to English. Apart from that, I quite liked Fanning’s performance; she avoided all the anachronistic 21st-century-style vivacity that most actresses would have laid on.

      (Did anyone else catch the brief glimpse of Effie Gray Ruskin in “Mr. Turner”? It was nicely done.)

  4. Next to Botticelli and Lippi, the PRB are some of my favourite painters. Throw in Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, the iImpressionists and Klimt I would be a happy camper. Also Art Nouveau.
    I really want to see this film, but it didn’t play on Tatooine and now I’m in a bigger city, I am awaiting my reserve from library. If I like it, I’ll buy. But what I’ve seen of costumes gives me hope.

  5. I got a bit of an eye-twitch when, at the scene of Effie’s first party with Ruskin (when she first meets the Pre-Raphaelites), they show a long shot of “The Order of Release”, by Millais. Effie MODELED for that painting; in fact, it was during the process of creating that piece that she and Millais started to get a case of the feelings for each other. Emma Thompson, you’re an educated person, you know better! I know the general audience might not know the story behind the painting, but a lot of them probably do, so it was my big complaint with the film, petty though it may seem.

  6. It’s been a while, but I just watched the film and did some research on John Ruskin, because I’ve always admired his work as an art critic. Anyway, there’s pretty solid grounds for suspicion that he was a paedophile who never acted on it, but was turned off by a grown woman’s body. When he hit middle age, he became infatuated with another young girl, Rose La Touche (which apparently inspired Nabokov to write Lolita), but her parents contacted Effie to ask what kind of husband he was, and when she told them that he was oppressive, they didn’t allow Rose to marry him.

    From a letter to a children’s book illustrator friend: “Will you – (it’s all for your own good – !) make her stand up and then draw her for me without a cap – and, without her shoes, – (because of the heels) and without her mittens, and without her – frock and frills? And let me see exactly how tall she is – and – how – round. It will be so good of and for you – And to and for me.”

    It seems likely that he had some pretty serious mommy issues!

  7. James McNeill Whistler sued Ruskin for libel when Ruskin dissed one of Whistler’s paintings. Whistler won, but was awarded just one farthing. Having read some of Ruskin’s writings for a Victorian Lit class in college, IMO Ruskin was a pretentious asshole.

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