Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Nitty on these Gritty Costumes...

Maybe I should just get over the fact that True Grit won absolutely nothing at the Oscars but one category I really thought they should have won was costume design. Mary Zophres did such a fantastic job. I read that while researching for historical accuracy, she did not trust old photographs because they were often done in studios and are therefore somewhat inaccurate as far as everyday clothing goes. Instead, she read diaries and searched for old catalogue pictures.

I also read that the the clothing of the day was rather uncomfortable and that she did not adjust her designs to accommodate the actors. She used itchy thick wool, rawhide, and cut the pants high. I think that factor of discomfort is part of what makes the grittiness of the old west so visceral in this movie.

One of my favorite costumes was the medicine man's. Check out what Zophres had to say about it:

"The gentleman they cast was huge — he was 6 foot 4. We couldn't find a bear big enough. You'd think bears would be big enough, but they weren't. I went to a taxidermist in Albuquerque, and on the floor was a bearskin rug with the head. And I was like, "OK, that's going to be his head," because it looked pretty good. And he happened to have some bearskins in a box. So we took those and cobbled four bearskins together to make that guy's outfit because he was so big. We wanted to envelop him in it. When he comes riding up, it looks like he's a bear on a horseback."

I especially liked Matt Damon's costume. He looks so sweaty and dirty in all the leather, yet he and the costume still manage to be somehow frou frou amid all the grit. LaBoeuf is such a lovable, foolish character, I thought his costume was perfect.

And last but not least Mattie's flat brim hat! It transcends her whole personality. The line of the brim cuts her young face and creates an exaggerated brow of determination.

You can read an interview with costume designer Mary Zophres here.

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