15 thoughts on “SNARK WEEK: What Year Is It Anyway?

  1. I once worked on a stage production of “A Christmas Carol” that … well you have to get the time line correct. If Scrooge is in his 40s or 50s in the 1840s then in Christmas Past, at Fezziwig’s party he should be in his 20s. That puts it in the 1820s or 18-teens.
    The designer hated the high waisted look of the 18-teens so he put Belle in panniers! (With bells printed on the fabric…ugh!) Let’s see… 1760s…1840s…. Scrooge is 100 and something at the start of the play.

  2. And now there’s Vienna Blood, set in the 1900’s…Mostly, I agree that the costumes should match the stipulated time period. I might make an exception for the 2nd half of the 17th century, when men’s fashions were so god-awful. Pepys in his diary reported that he walked around all day with both his legs in the same leg of his petticoat breeches.

  3. Yay, Snark Week!!! I am always fascinated when a title card appears at the start (and sometimes mid-way through) a film. My ‘anachronistic costume radar’ goes into high alert and I find it really hard to focus on the film as a whole, so I totally empathise; I also find the same thing in theatre, where they project the date, but seem to have absolutely no idea on the appropriate fashions for the period. I really don’t know why more research isn’t done at the start of a project. I know that, for myself, I have to be confident in my research and selected sources even before approaching a director with designs or begin drafting an initial pattern!

    1. Yup, the title cards make me watch more closely. If they dropped them, I wouldn’t notice. A number of recent movies like ‘Passing’ are clearly set in a not-contemporary time period but no title card says so. The fashion, the sets, the music, all convey a different era. The exact year isn’t important.

      1. I totally agree, mostly it is entirely unnecessary to state the date and in fact makes it a lot trickier for them to appease nitpickers like me. The Olivier Pride and Prejudice’s statement that it is set in “Old England” does sort of make the wacky crinoline based costumes semi acceptable for this reason. As you say, the exact year is almost entirely unneeded.

        1. I’ve only seen the 1940 Pride and Prejudice film once, and that was a long time ago. But, to me, Old England is something I’d expect in a Robin Hood or Ivanhoe flick, not Jane Austen. I mean, 19th Century England ain’t THAT old.

          1. ah, there’s OLD England, then there’s Ye OLDE England. the first is almost now (1700-2021) and the latter is any time before 1700. according to Hollywood that is.

  4. I’d say that the Dorian Gray movie had date cards for exactly the reason that it’s the only clue to when the movie is set. “Let’s imagine, children….”

  5. I think the best indeterminate scene setting title card is the one at the beginning of 1937’s The Prisoner of Zenda:
    “Toward the close of the last century, when History still wore a Rose, and Politics had not yet outgrown the Waltz, a Great Royal Scandal was whispered about in the Anterooms of Europe.”

  6. No, it doesn’t bother me about the title card dates not matching up with costumes in the production because I don’t know enough to nitpick in that area. Generally, I’ll come to this site after watching a FrockFlick to see if and how y’all rate the accuracy. So, more than accuracy, I’m turned off by cheap production values – including at the level of costumes. And it’s not so much cheapness; it’s more like, “this looks like NO ONE CARED what this production looked like.” And that’s such a shame because so much goes into theatrical productions-filmed or otherwise–so you know at least someone cared, but many times that care just didn’t translate well to the screen. That said, after visiting this site for a while now, I am able to notice things that I wasn’t before – metal grommets (of course) and more broadly, clothes that look like they were made with sewing machines (for stories where that just wasn’t possible). The one show I keep harping on because even in my non-expert eyes was SO EGREGIOUS and PURPOSEFULLY so was the TNT show Will (2017). Oh God, that one hurt me. It just hurt. I could also tell that Reign was absolutely atrocious regarding accuracy because every dress looked like a Jessica McClintock prom dress from my youth (which several of you have pointed out time and again), but I was so taken up with the other outrageous aspects of the production, that I was kinda won over (?) like, “OF COURSE these are the costumes they would have for THIS show.” That was a very LONG way of saying, “Overall, I’m too ignorant to snark on the costumes, so I get so much pleasure out of y’all doing it for me!!”

  7. It is basically a really needless own goal to specify when it’s not needed. But I imagine there’s a bit of cognitive dissonance there–directors want it to be taken seriously as a historical story, but don’t always want to actually live with what that era looks/feels/sounds like. When it’s not an actual historical person, I think keeping it vague makes the most sense.

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