Thursday, March 09, 2006

Just another pretty face

I have often noted that one can easily identify the decade in which a fantasy or historical movie was made simply by looking at the heroine. Fashions in beauty change over time; while none of the heroines look downright ugly, the girls from an 80s or 60s movie would definitely not be cast as the most beautiful woman in the world today. (The 20s are perhaps the worst of all; whereas the stars from the 40s movies still look incredible.)

Sometimes it seems to be a bit more consciously done: I have always thought that in the Pride & Prejudice miniseries, while Elizabeth is far more appealing to modern eyes, one can see that Jane might well better fit the image of beauty of the neoclassical era.

Anyway, I have always reflected with some comfort that the only thing that keeps me (or any other reasonably decent-looking young woman) from being dazzlingly beautiful is being born in the wrong era. And perhaps a good makeup artist.


Rachel's Jeremy said...

I think the beholder has a lot to do with it in any era.

Rose said...

Excellent point about Jane and Elizabeth! That bothered me so much at first (I kept thinking she wasn't nearly pretty enough) until I began to notice that Jane did have even, regular features and good natural colouring. Of course they couldn't rely on makeup in those days. A.A. Milne wrote in his autobiography that he thought these new 'painted nails' and 'blood-red lips' a cheap sort of beauty.

Now, I disagree that the 20s were the worst. Perhaps the excesses were over the top (think Theda Bara and the whole vamp look), but overall I think the straight silhouettes and tight curls and pixie-ish features were prettier than the horrid washed-out colours and feathery hair and high cheekbones of the 70s, for instance. You're right, the 40s were the best! Glamour, tasteful use of makeup, pretty hair even by today's standards.

The Duke said...

Umm... don't compare the 20's to the 70's to make your point. :)

You're probably right, but I can't remember the last 70's movie I watched. I would still say the 20's rank below the 40/50's and 60/80's.