66 thoughts on “SNARK WEEK: Oh the Strange Subtitled Frock Flicks You’ll Find

  1. I need to finish the second season of that Russian Catherine the Great series. And a. friend keeps recommending this one set in Azerbaijan I think that’s on Netflix?

    I dug around Russian language internet and the Russian wiki says Love in Chains is set in 1856. Who could tell from Generic 19thC Dress, I’ve no idea, but… shrug.

    For the Colombian set show, I have worked with a number of people from Latin America and I wonder if the dresses are supposed to reflect the embroidery traditions there? I still think the lace is super iffy and it doesn’t look like items I’ve seen, but I can’t speak with any authority on it.

    1. If it comes to Love in Chains these are one of the worst costumes and the other ones are very well made and historically accurate. They have the right silhouette, and the main character is the only one among the nobility, who does not wear crinoline in the first season, so her dresses may look generic 19thC, but she’s poor and I think not giving her a crinoline worked, as she was not exactly nobility and not exactly a peasant. I don’t expect historical accuracy from costume series since they are not historical series.

  2. As for Alatriste consider the 2006 film with Viggo Mortensen as the title character for non Snark week. The film didn’t spare expense and shows off Mortensen film combat skills and ability to speak Spanish , as well as having production values heavily influenced by Velazquez’s period paintings. One can watch it on youtube –https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SX-y87nmZnc.

  3. When I first checked the movie “Young Goethe in Love” out of the library, I didn’t realize it was in German. The first few minutes had no dialogue, so when the characters started speaking I went, “oh dear, gonna need subtitles!”

    It’s been a few years since I saw it, but I think I enjoyed Lotte’s dresses in that movie! Plus I loved her spunk! She was so much more “liberated” and knew her own mind better than most women in modern American chick flicks. And yet she worked within the norms of her time.

    I tried to watch the 2011 Dostoevsky miniseries, but only made it through one episode. Lots of time in prison, not many interesting costumes to speak of. I love his writings, but this miniseries was just meh to me.

    A Royal Affair was great. I really enjoyed the plot and couldn’t believe how much of it was true! Great dresses on Alicia Vikander.

    1. Do you mean that mix of young Goethe’s life and the Werther-novel?

      Great actors, even if the costumes were not all really nice. But I would aprove it as a German production to be a good one (compared to many other).

      The film had the title “Goethe!” in German.
      We saw many movies about Goethe and Schiller in the last decade. Maybe you know “Die geliebten Schwestern”. It’s similar, with a lot of fictional aspects.

      1. Yes! I had just read the Sorrows of Young Werther (so emo! It was hard not to laugh at some parts. It’s a shame it inspired so many suicides!), so I recognized those plot elements from Werther and doubted most of them happened in Goethe’s life.

        I haven’t seen Die geliebten schwestern/Beloved Sisters yet. Did you like it?

        1. As a German production it was OK. Some elements were very odd. I visited Rudolstadt, where Schiller met Goethe, for several occassions and I found it very confusing that they used the Palace (Heidecksburg) as the palace in Weimar, the palace of Rudolstadt and even the university of Jena. Especially the Scene at the university is looking very strange with that grand hall of the Rudolstadt palace (maybe one of the best example of such a room in the rococo style in Europe). The costumes in some places were very odd and looked like stolen from cheap theater fleemarkets, especially when the Story continued into the regency period. The best aspect of the film was the beginning with these really authentic looking landscape near Rudolstadt (which Schiller really loved, Goethe made some drawings of this landscape). I think, that it is nothing for Schiller/Goethe-purists.

          I remember that a friend of us, who admire Goethe, hated the “Goethe!” film about the young Goethe.
          I think that “Goethe!” reflected more an Image of Goethe, which he maybe loved to create himself. Some aspects are just wrong. Goethe was in Wetzlar during the vacation of the Imperial Chamber Court. Therefore most of Goethe’s own observations about that important Institution were completely wrong. And the movie did nothing better, as it missed what the task of that court was (mostly to solve conflicts of German estates vs. German estates or subjects vs. their rulers).
          I liked the Scenes when Goethe and his rival were working in the archives.
          I thought that it was a shame, that they didn’t filmed the first Scenes in Strasbourg. Strasbourg has such a different City than this town, which you can see in the movie (perhaps they used Görlitz again, with those typical Silesian Renaissance/Baroque buildings!).
          I thought that it had a nice silly (but endearing silly – you know) touch, when they introduced the Werther-clothing by Lotte’s accident. :-D (Although it’s not logical at all, as the actor of Werther’s/Goethe’s friend is a lot smaller than Goethe/Werther in this movie and you may wonder how his suit fits Werther/Goethe. :-D )

  4. Not all costumes in “Love in Chains” were so shitty like those on the pictures you have shown. However, it’s true that many were bad. But would like to know, which ones were good. Sorry for bothering you again, but can you write a more detailed review of “Love in Chains”, please, please :-)?

    1. Here you have the contact data of “Belinska Cinema Costume”, the atelier, which created the costumes for “Love in Chains”:

      Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BelinskaCinemaCostume/

      Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/belinskacostume/

      You can write them and ask them for the reason for their often weird choices. They understand English and are very friendly and communicative. I asked them for more historical correctness for the costumes in season 3. and they answered me politely.

        1. Yes, one of them was an owner of a brothel and the other one was an actress with a rich lover, so don’t expect them to wear modest, 1850’s clothing ;-)

      1. They did a very great job, I’d also like to remind it’s Ukrainian, not American so they don’t have American budget, after events that happened in Crimea and Euromaidan, and all the Russia troubles, Ukraine is not that rich to make a proffesional, historically accurate TV series, right?

    2. True, she has shown the most shitty costumes and ‘Love in Chains’ has a plenty of beautiful, historically accurate clothes.

  5. Tried watching The Bonfire of Destiny just because English dubbing was available so I could spend my time watching the action rather than reading subtitles. Wasn’t worth the effort. It is very loosely based on an historical incident but needn’t have been. Meh.

  6. Man, I tried Cathedral of the Sea, but it starts with rape in the form of droit de seigneur, and I just absolutely checked out.

    1. Yikes. Gross. Also, does anyone know how common that was? I feel like things that seem really strange to us today stand out and then get incorporated into historical dramas, but maybe they were also weird then? I have a hard time imagining highly religious societies where sex inside and outside marriage was highly regulated uniformly being like, oh yeah, this sacrament is totally violable by landowners.

      1. I doubt a member of the nobility would have been stopped from doing it, but I really don’t think it was a regular habit among any group. The last time I read about it, the author argued it was a misinterpretation of the money a seed paid to his lord for the right to marry

        1. That makes sense. Yeah, stopping nobility would’ve been hard, but it seems unlikely to have been that regular/common. Maybe in some areas it was normalized, but it is the sort of thing you could get in reach trouble with the church with, and the church would have some clout to put an end to things.

      2. Droit du seigneur is widely regarded to be a myth. No solid primary evidence of it occurring has ever been cited.

  7. Dis these productions really have costume designers,or some over enthusiastic Halloween party organizers?

  8. Oh no, I just finally had forgotten that Alastriste-stuff.

    The series was thought to benefit from the success of the larger movie (which had his stupid moments for his own). As the larger movie (with the clunky mix of episodes of the books), had some success, the responsibles for the series maybe assumed that modern shirts with these pleats as on your photo here are looking extremely Spanish.

    I can remember that I saw the first episode on Arte, where it was praised as “super authentic” etc.. What on earth! It’s not only the costumes. The whole storyline is so stupid and on top of that, it was so boring!

    I’m waiting for your review of that French series “Rani”. Set in the 1740s, that is really dumb. Not only the storyline with tons of stereotypes, but with such one dimensional acting. How could the great Jean-Hughues Anglade ever find in this production?

    1. I actually had a Snark Week post titled “Rani: So Many Questions!” just based on promo photos because I couldn’t figure out WTfrock was going on. But I decided to skip it since I couldn’t find the series anywhere to even give it a brief look. I think I saved the pix tho, so maybe next Snark Week :)

      1. Great News!

        The series was presented on Arte and later I saw it on dailymotion.

        There are so many aspects, that it truely would be a jewel for every Snark Week! Maybe something like a modern Version of these old “Angelique”-films, with “a hot damsel in distress” fighting villains and is accompanied by some pretty fools. Some cruelty and sex and crime in a combination with madness are a horrible mix.

  9. Is the guy in the panne velvet from Filinta wearing a car seat belt?!?! Was that even a thing in the 19th Century??? And the mens costume pic from Bolivar… hilarious! WHAT A WIG and all the guys looking like they’ve escaped from some cheap kids TV programme – how I’ve chuckled!

  10. On Netflix I could only get through about 3 minutes of the series “Always a Witch”: that is contemporary set with supposed flashbacks to Colombia in 1646. But just a couple of scenes in I realized I’d go stark raving raging if I watched further. The teaser trailer here may have some of these costume crimes https://www.netflix.com/title/80205595

  11. I’ll have you know that that third picture from The Adventures of Captain Alatriste, where she looks like her arms are wrapped in bacon, is entirely historically accurate from the period circa 2010 when Lady Gaga wore her meat dress. OK, well, it’s not exactly a whole period, more like an hour, but yeah. Accurate.

    1. Gosh, in 200 years there’s going to be some historic drama set in the 2000s and they’ll think we all dressed like Kardashians and Gagas and Hipster Brooklynites. I’m glad I’ll be dead by then!

    1. It was Russian Empire, Ukraine, and they really dressed like that, he would be all wet if he wore shirts.

  12. Okay, the following comment shouldn’t come across as me defending these costumes… because I’m not (I mean… who could). Just wanted to sort of excuse the Spanish productions listed here. Mind you, not really excuse, but explain as someone with some first hand knowledge. In Spain there is no such thing as a real film industry due to very long political reasons (which might include the very real and felt consequences of a dictatorship that existed up until 1975). The two biggest audiovisual production companies are TV companies, and their budgets are not even a third of any BBC show. So, the answer is “yes, there is no money put into them and that’s why they all look like they bought their costumes at party city”.

    1. If these were all 10+ years ago productions, it’d be more excusable. But compare with ‘Cable Girls’ or ‘Morocco: Love in Times of War’ or ‘The Time in Between’ — Spanish-produced TV series that we’ve reviewed on the site & all of which look pretty decent in terms of costumes. Now those are all 20th-c. productions so sure it’s easier, but it’s also easy to fuck up (see above ;) ). And series like ‘Isabel’ & ‘Cathedral of the Sea’ seem to have thrown money at the screen (great locations, cinematography, shiny fabrics), but missed the mark in costume execution.

      Also, Snark Week!

  13. The Bonfire of Destiny had potential, but they ramped up the drama too much, and that french braid was so annoying! I was like, hey, yes, let’s explore this interesting historical event I’ve never heard of before, and the writers were like no that’s not DRAMATIC enough!

  14. So that last teal dress from ‘Love in Chains,’ all I can see is that the squiggles on the skirt look like sperm to me. The worst of all this seems to be the extremely poor fit of most of the clothes. I’m guessing they skipped using the correct undergarments to save costs?

    1. Or maybe it’s Russian (exactly Ukrainian) backwater and they didn’t wear the high fashion you see in the museums and on fashion plates, and also the author chose the worst costumes and didn’t mention all the beautiful, historically accurate clothing.

  15. I tried watching “Isabel” a few years ago and had to stop due to her sparkly eyeshadow.
    After “Love in Chains,” which I found entertaining, the Amazon algorithm recommended another soap that seemed like it had exactly the same plot but maybe a third of the budget. I think it was called “Once a Mistress” and I lasted less than ten minutes.

    1. Wouldn’t it be called Life of a Mistress?
      Both Love in Chains and Life of a Mistress are based on Isaura The Slave from my Country Brazil I searched and it was confirmed and yeah life of a mistress (that should be called something like Manumission ’cause it is basically the original title and what the series is about) can be really cheesy but it has some good qualities yet it doesn’t stand for Love in Chains

      1. That’s funny! It’s quite possible they borrowed the original plot – I have vivid childhood memories of Isaura The Slave, the first Brazilian series shown in the USSR. It was hugely, insanely popular :)

      2. ‘Love in Chains’ even copied some dialogs from Isaura The Slave, but I accept it, since it’s Isaura The Slave’s remake about white slaves in Russia (Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania etc.).

    2. Russian ‘Life of a Mistress’ (translator mistake, it should be Manumission), is set in 1830s and I agree it was very poor made and much worse than ‘Love in Chains’ which itself is kinda good if you watch all the costumes and not just fix on the most shitty.

  16. The most I can defend Bonfire of Destiny is to say that the prom dresses from that promo were never in the show, not that the actual outfits are too great (and the hair… we can forget about that) I did like it though, and I knew I was singing up for cranked up drama.

  17. I watched the first episode of Bonfire of destiny which was quite successful in France.
    It’s based on a true event and they give a quite realistic and horrifying version of this fire which killed 120 upperclass women (inclusing Sissi’s sister). But all the feminist themes sound faux and that’s translated into the hair and the way of speaking and acting which read 21st century and not all 1897

  18. I was so annoyed at Most Beautiful Thing on Netflix!, 1. The title isn’t grammatically accurate! 2. There are 0 attempts at Late 1950’s/Early 1960’s hairstyles!!!

  19. Me: yay, new costume dramas on Netflix!
    Me five seconds later: ugh, you mean I have to read subtitles? I’M TOO LAZY FOR THIS.

    1. You’re not the only one! And it’s worse when I’m trying to review it for Frock Flicks bec. I sometimes have my laptop open & am making notes as I watch, but I can’t read the screen & write at the same time. Too hard :(

      1. Speaking about hell, she explains that many costumes had to actually burn for the famous fire scene.

  20. Watched Bonfires of Destiny. The costumes were actually decent (glaring exception leading lady blond suffering from leading lady hairstyle and lack of hats) but they really cranked up the melodrama, handled the feminist theme with a heavy, unsubtle, and way too modern take (and there were great French feminists to draw from such as the great Louise Michel or Hubertine Auclerc), and finally added a moustache-twirling villain to avoid any real exploration of class divide.
    I’d still recommend watching the first episode who really pulled its weight in the reconstruction of the event (the fire at the Bazar de la Charite) and then read about it online (it was a huge shock in France and had a great cultural impact in the pre-WW1 years)

  21. Season 2 of “High Seas” is now on Netflix. I binge watched it last June while I was in Oakland taking care of my ex’s cats (long story). It’s basically a telenovella dubbed in English (though, I can tell from the actresses faces that the Spanish dialogue is probably WAY more passionate). The costumes are an attempt at 1940s, and some of the female characters are fairly modern, it’s sometimes pretty. I mean, the story gets pretty out there, and I haven’t watched season 2, because I know I’m going to binge it again and I don’t have that kind of time.

  22. I accidentaly watched one random episode of Love in Chains in which a girl mentioned she is going to study medicine in Zurich, cause they started accepting women. I checked it (wondering when this weird thing is supposed to take place). It was, according to the university’s webside, in 1866. So i guess it’s late 1860s.

  23. I’m quite sure that I’ve seen the first girl of Eugenie in Gran Hotel (2016) from Egypt which is a bit better dressed Krepostnaya/Love in Chains is nice despite the cheesy costumes there’s a big ball in episodes 2 and 3 and there’s people that look like are dressing curtains is like Slave Isaura in Russia but Brazil’s version is way better dressed yet I like it a lot LOVE IN CHAINS DESERVES A WATCH
    Also La Esclava Blanca is also very good despite many bad dresses there’s some that are quite tasteful and has a good story

    1. Yes, Love in chains definitely deserves a watch, even though it’s not always historically accurate, I liked the costumes, and I found some of them (especially Olga’s and Natalie’s second season costumes) very well made and accurate

  24. Sorry but I think you are mistaken about Isabel. Its costumes are actually very accurate compared to other 15th century dramas (The White Queen, Medici, Borgias, etc.) Really, name any 15th century period drama that has more accurate costumes than this.
    Most of the costumes and accessories were designed according to contemporary Iberian portraits and drawing. IBERIAN. Not every court had the same fashion in Europe in the 15th century, the Iberians were quite special (early hoop skirts, etc.) There were many Behind the scenes videos for the series, some of them explaining the work of the Costume Design Department, and they explain in details how they transformed the contemporary portraits, drawings, fashion descriptions into reality.
    Where you are mistaken:
    1. picture: What you call princess seams WAS USED around that time, however briefly. It appeared in the Iberian Peninsula too, but it was especially the Low Countries where it appeared occasionally. This particular dress was designed based on a contemporary drawing about Isabella of Castile, although it is Isabella’s daughter, Joanna, who wears it (who married into the Low Countries/Flanders btw).
    2. picture: The gowns DON’T HAVE TO FIT that much, not necessarily. This is the late Middle Ages, fashion industry wasn’t very developed. Especially the Spanish Kingdoms didn’t have fitting clothes that countries that were more advanced into the Renaissance already had. Yes, they were snaggy and sloppy many times. It’s the Middle Ages still. That’s how they have to look like, not like a tight fitting Marie Antoinette gown.
    3. picture: You laugh about this dress and it was actually a dress Joan of Portugal wears on a contemporary portrait :D Yes, her style seems so out of the era, but that was how the real Joan was: a frivolous and daring woman, with oddly promiscuous style none of the other women of the era wore. Scandalous, very low neckline, very wide hoop skirts that seem as if they came from a future century and not the 15th. But that was the real Joan, they portrayed her very well, including her style
    4. picture: I don’t know what you mean about “bad hair”, that is how the young Isabella wore her hair on her REAL PORTRAITS. On other occasions, the show does take liberties when it comes to her hairstyle, especially with the veil covvering her hair in the later seasons, but it was a necessary tool to make the actress age properly: she had to portray Isabella from her early teens to her death at 53, so they used the usual hair and makeup tricks to make her age during the seasons.
    (Btw you didn’t set the timeline of the show right: it is set between 1462-1504.)

    1. Oh, and the last picture, your “human tampon” meme: this white dress of Isabella’s was inspired by the white dress she wears on the famous painting of her coronation, that is what the show wanted to pay tribute to with that scene and dress.

      1. https://www.rtve.es/alacarta/videos/isabel/isabel-joyas-serie/2020069/

        They are in Spanish but Google Translate can always help (not with the video but with the text at least).
        Btw the series was a huge success, the most successful series in Spain during its running time. It won a ton of awards, also beating series like Gran Hotel. And it was hugely appreciated by historians for its historical accuracy, an accuracy unusual in tv shows set around this time (The Tudors haha, but also most others). What they praised was the overall accuracy (with the events, depiction of the era, scenery, etc, and also the costumes).

  25. In defence of ‘Love in Chains’.
    1. It’s set just after the Crimean War, so in 1856 and it wasn’t a mystery for anybody who knows some Russian (Ukrainian, Polish etc.) history.
    2. ‘It was hugely popular and money was spent’, it was hugely popular, due to the fact Ukraine and Poland lack a little bit The Slave Isaura, because it reminds them old times and Isaura was literally the first western TV series in USSR, Poland, Hungary, etc., so it was very different from our grey, soviet TV shows. Also we didn’t have any good historical drama (if you disliked Ukrainian ‘Love in Chains’, just watch some episodes of Polish ‘The Crown of the Kings’ and you’ll change your mind it’s such a clunker) so it was basically first, quite well made and historically accurate series.
    3. ‘Money was spent’ I would prefer STB (Ukrainian independent TV channel) to pay for productions like this rather for propaganda campaigns or cheesy soap operas with 5000 of series and I believe they hard to make this show as good as they could. I am also kind of glad that it was bought by Polish public (governmental) TV so I payed not for another propaganda campaign against Civic Platform (polish opposition) or something like ‘The Crown of the Kings’, but for well made series.
    4. The promo poster looks cheezoid. Yes it does, they could make it better.
    5. The shirtless blacksmith wasn’t the one who made the series popular. That’s basically what they would wear back in that times in Ukraine, otherwise they would sweat very much (it was very hot inside the smithy).
    6. The blacksmith isn’t even a main character, I think people were watching it for other characters as well as just plot, however I have observed that Poles like Alexey the most, Ukrainians like Grigoriy (even though he was a villain), and Russians like Andrey and it’s basically, because actor playing Alexey has strong connections with Poland, the one playing Grigoriy is Ukrainian and the one playing Andrey is Russian.
    7. The pink revealing dress… Hmm… I noticed the series was mostly watched by women and I think that’s what a woman like her (an actress with a rich lover) would wear.
    8. The wedding dress. Ugh… I personally didn’t like it, she had much more beautiful dress in the promo. However I kind of like this napkin dress, it’s look slavic, since my grandmother has a plenty of napkins she puts on all the tables, shelves and chest of drawers. And maybe it’s just me, but the dress would work quite well if it had more modest neckline.
    9. ‘Cold shoulders and more tits’ Fun fact: the actress was wearing silicone breasts for the time of recording. And well… she was a brothel owner, a former prostitute, so she was obliged to wear it, since it was a BROTHEL.
    10. ‘Crazy hair. Crazy fabric. Shit that doesn’t fit. Also, tits!’ Come on, what’s wrong? She’s got beautiful hairstyle, I used to read some 1850’s Polish hairstyle tutorials and it was basically how they wore their hair during balls and theater plays. Also notice it’s Russian fashion so it may be different from Paris, Vienna or London high fashion during the same time and Polish tutorials aren’t that different since Poland was also a part of Russia. And again. Fabric resembles something which would be worn as a Russian court gown, which is also right, Olga was a daughter of a high aristocracy member. And could you tell me, where doesn’t ‘the shit’ fit? It fits almost perfectly and the only thing I’m not satisfied is that she wasn’t married so I would advice her not to wear so revealing neckline.
    11. The 1850s silhouette looks very well, expect the main character’s dresses who may not wear crinoline due the fact she is something between a noblewoman and a maid.
    12. Ukraine is not as rich as western countries, especially after what happened in Crimea, Luhansk, Donetsk, and so on, so they don’t have American budget.
    13. Come on, don’t expect historical accuracy in non-historical dramas. There’s a difference between historical drama and period drama and since it’s a period drama I would even reccomend not to make it 100% historically accurate to achieve the right effect.

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