Movie costumes: “Cowboys and Aliens”

11 Sep

Tonight I finally went to see Cowboys and Aliens with a couple of good friends. I’ve been home for almost an hour and a half, and I can’t decide whether I liked it or not. I was entertained, sure, but the movie really needed two or three more minority characters to sacrifice themselves for the white folks*. Perhaps in the sequel.

This isn’t a blog about the pernicious erasing of minorities in pop culture, though; it’s about costuming! So let’s talk briefly about the costumes in Cowboys and Aliens. As you might have guessed from the title (or from, you know, seeing the movie, which has apparently been out for some time?), it’s a western, filmed in New Mexico in 2010 but set in the Arizona  in 1870mumble.

Not pictured: aliens.

I ought to tell you that I know fuckall about that particular period in fashion history. I can extrapolate a few things about hats and cleanliness based on my general knowledge of the climate and working outdoors,  but it’s several hundred years before/after anything I’m familiar with. So Olivia Wilde’s hideous, unflattering calico dress may be perfectly placed to the period, for all I know. It’s still hideous and unflattering. I mean, look at this shit:

Olivia Wilde in a hideous, ill-fitting calico dress

The gun belt is certainly an interesting choice.

She looks like the Laura Ingles understudy in a low-budget summer camp production of “Little House in the Big Wood.” As a tall, lanky person, I can tell you the first rule of dressing tall, lanky people is to make sure their sleeves are the right length. Sleeves that don’t hit at the wrist are a great way to add length to arms, but not in an attractive way–more in a Frankenstein’s Monster way. In point of fact, this was used to great effect in the original Frankenstein to make the monster appear ganglier. More gangly? Regardless, this is the reason I avoid three-quarter sleeves.

The whole movie takes place over about two days, and so most of the characters don’t change clothes. Thankfully, Olivia’s character is the one character who does change, into a much more flattering ensemble of a man’s shirt and trousers. I believe we’re meant to assume these were scavenged from the extra clothing of the men she is traveling with. It’s not really explained why, if they have extra clothes just laying around, nobody’s changing out of their grungy shit? Regardless, it’s a welcome change.

Equally as welcome is the fact that Daniel Craig spends most of the movie wearing chaps!

Yes, just like this.

The many loving shots of Daniel Craig’s magnificent ass really helped me warm to this film. I’m not ready to forgive its treatment of minority characters, but I’m willing to forgive that calico bullshit.

*Adam Beach. Why.

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4 Responses to “Movie costumes: “Cowboys and Aliens””

  1. amanda60 September 11, 2011 at 7:46 am #

    Just saw this move myself and was left with the same dilemma, did I like it or not? A lot of my objections were answered when my daughter explained that it was based on a comic. That explained SOOOO much for me. I thought the opening scene where Daniel Craig’s character pulls off the grotty misshapen garments from the bodies of the Bogan style cowboys and then comes out looking like he’s wearing Gucci is priceless. I wondered if the ‘not quite right’ dress and the hair hanging out on Olivia Wilde was meant to suggest from the beginning that she was an alien…or maybe it was just bad costuming. Not sure what her lack of undergarments was meant to imply? The verdict is out for me on this one and I don’t think will be back anytime soon. A bit of nonsense with some okay CGI and an alien race that annihilated races for…gold? Hmmm? Really enjoyed reading your review!

    • stonebiscuit September 11, 2011 at 5:20 pm #

      My friends and I had the same idea about her clothing being meant to show her as alien (hah, see what I did there?) to the situation. I would’ve thought someone would’ve drawn attention to that in dialogue were that the case, but maybe?

      I’m glad you liked my review! Welcome to the blog! Hope you enjoy!

  2. Ken January 4, 2012 at 2:27 pm #

    The dress is see through! Watch it again!

    • stonebiscuit January 4, 2012 at 2:30 pm #

      I’ll take your word for it. I think I’ve devoted enough of my relatively short life to this movie.

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