Costumes play a major role in historical films. Not only do they provide a glimpse into the past, but they help viewers feel transported back to the time of the film. Here, we take a look at some costumes from great historical movies and compare them to their real-life counterparts.
1. Hamilton vs. Alexander Hamilton
Here, Lin-Manuel Miranda (left) plays Alexander Hamilton in his hit musical-turned-Broadway movie Hamilton. The musical is based on the life of Alexander Hamilton, who was a founding father of the United States and the founder of the country’s financial system. The costumes worn in the musical are largely inspired by styles from the late 18th century.
2. Pride and Prejudice against the Georgian era
This is Elizabeth (Kiera Knightly) in the evening gown she wore when dancing with Mr. Darcy. Pride and Prejudice takes place in the Georgian era (1714-1830), and women in this era often wore long dresses similar to the one on the right, made in 1797.
3. Little woman against the era of civil war
Little woman (2019) won the Oscar for Best Costume Design and it’s easy to see why. The film required nearly 75 period costumes, each of which lasted nearly 40 hours. In the photo, Amy (played by Florence Pugh) in a relaxed dress compared to a real walking dress from 1865.
4. Elisabeth against Elizabeth I
The portrait “The Coronation of Elizabeth” was used as the inspiration for the coronation scene in Elisabeth (1998). On the left is the coronation scene in the film compared to the painting the costume was based on. The film was nominated for Best Costume Design at the 1999 Oscars and won the award for Best Makeup.
5. Memoirs of a geisha against real Geishas
Memoirs of a geisha (2005) follows the story of Chiyo Sakamoto (Ziyi Zhang) over a period of approximately 30 years in Japan. The film examines the sacrifices and lives of geishas before WWII and the challenges they faced in the aftermath of the war. On the left is Ziyi Zhang in Memoirs of a geisha compared to a real geisha from Japan before WWII.
6. Gatsby the magnificent compared to Flapper fashion
Gatsby the magnificent (2013) showcase a number of stunning period costumes from the 1920s, really showcasing the flapper fashion. In fact, the film won the Oscar for Best Costume Design at the 2014 Oscars. Here, Daisy Buchanan (played by Carey Mulligan) wears a helmet commonly referred to as a “gypsy cap”. Right, a young woman from 1929 also wearing a similar headdress.
7. Mary Queen of Scots against the real Mary, Queen of Scots
Mary Queen of Scots (2018) followed the relationship between cousins Mary, Queen of Scots (played by Saoirse Ronan) and her cousin Queen Elizabeth I (played by Margot Robbie). The costume design for this film was to reflect the fashion of the time in England and Scotland. In the photo on the left, Saoirse Ronan as the Mary Queen of Scots compared to the actual Queen on the right.
8. Marie Antoinette against the real Marie-Antoinette
Marie Antoinette (2006) is a historical drama that focuses on the life of the real Marie-Antoinette. There were around 70 different historical costume pieces created for Kirsten Dunst, who played Marie Antoinette in the film. Although some liberties were taken with the colors of the dresses, the fit of all clothing was historically precise. Here, Kirsten Dunst wears a blue dress similar to that worn by the real Marie Antoinette in 1783.
9. Mad Men compared to the fashion of the early 1960s
Mad Men was a TV show set in the 1960s to 1970s, which meant that costume designers constantly had to create new pieces to keep up with the fashion trends of that period. Left, Betty Draper (played by January Jones) in a typical dress worn by housewives in the 1960s, compared to an actual 1959 dress on the right.
ten. Anna karenina against the Imperial Court of Russia
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Anna karenina (2012) follows the life of Russian aristocrat and socialite Anna Karenina in the 1870s. Here, Anna Karenina (played by Kiera Knightly) catches the attention of Count Alexei Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) at a ball. Besides, it is a dress style that would be common at imperial balls at the end of the 19th century. This particular dress was worn by Empress Maria Feodorovna in the 1890s.