Les Miserables

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Les Miserables

Post  buistR on Sat 19 Jan 2013, 10:04 am

While musicals may not be to everyone's taste the newly released film version of "Les Miserables" deserves credit for the care taken to get contemporary uniforms (and presumably the civilian clothing of prostitutes, street urchins etc) accurate. The French infantry, cuirassiers and dragoons of 1832 parade and fight in what appears to be entirely correct dress - something that Hollywood usually doesn't bother with unless a given film is portraying a well known period and subject. Even the relatively obscure subjects of French police, National Guards, galley slaves and prison wardens of the period look authentic. And Russell Crowe as Inspector Javert wears his various gendarmerie uniforms with style - even when drowning himself in the Seine!.

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Re: Les Miserables

Post  BlueTrain on Mon 17 Jun 2013, 11:23 pm

Getting things correct in historical periods is always difficult for moviemakers. In fact, I was pointing out to my son, who works in the movie industry, that in a military film, it can be hard to be perfectly correct to get something correct in a film set in the present because lots of things are unavailable (the army doesn't even have enough to go around), while something set fifty years ago is also difficult because things are also not available. These days, of course, reproducctions seem to be available for everything. Years ago, substitutes would have been used. In Gungha Din, Krag rifles were used instead of Lee-Enfields.

Sometimes movie makers go to great lengths to achieve historical accuracy. In a relatively recent movie about the Charge of the Light Brigade, the mess silver actually present in the Crimea, still in the possession of a descendent British regiment, was used in the movie. Very elaborate costumes were also made up for the movie.

For another movie about Charles "Chinese" Gordon, starring Charleton Heston, his uniform was made by the same London firm that actually made Gordon's uniform a hundred years earlier. They still had the original pattern. In the "Four Feathers" film made just before WWII, set 40 years earliers, used original uniforms taken from store in Egypt. I suppose something like that could still happen.

Most of this historical accuracy is wasted on a typical moviegoer.

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Re: Les Miserables

Post  buistR on Tue 18 Jun 2013, 7:34 am

True about the difficulties (and arguably wasted effort) of getting the period costumes just right for an unappreciative audience. Sometimes  though much trouble can be taken and then wasted - the Charge of the Light Brigade film you mention had remarkably authentic uniforms for British, Russian, Turkish and French participants and then the producer went and spoilt the effect by insisting on putting all five of the Light Brigade regiments into the crimson breeches of the 11th Hussars. He apparently just liked the colour. As any uniform fanatic knows the 4th Light Dragoons, 8th Hussars, 17th Lancers and 13th Light Dragoons all wore dark blue breeches. Good to learn that the regimental silver was the real thing though!

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