Stoker: Colour the Narrative | Clothes on Film

Here is a brief extract from editor Chris Laverty’s third ‘Fabric of Cinema’ column for international periodical Arts Illustrated. The main reason for a plug is the subject matter discussed: colour, without doubt one of the most fascinating aspects of theoretical costume study. Colour is so open to interpretation that any occasion costume designers dare to use it with intentional meaning constitutes a brave move. One of the finest costume events of the year so far, Stoker, provides just such an example. Costumers Kurt and Bart deliberately incorporated colour as a form of expression to be read alongside the film’s similarly intentional production design.

A preview of the Arts Illustrated piece ‘Colour the Narrative’ is included below. To get the entire magazine either download the issue online or subscribe to the hard copy:

‘Artistic interpretation of colour is entirely subjective. Crudely, it is based on cultural, spiritual, or even religious beliefs. But in actuality our response to colour is a subconscious reflection of life experiences and desire. For example, to some people blue is tranquil, to others sad. Colour cannot be taught or forced, it can only be read. This is why artistically colour is unable to tell a story; we tell the story, colour provides the synopsis.

Colour in cinema is one of the most important facets of narrative. It is rife with paradox; indicative and prominent on screen, yet its true significance is obscured by definition. Korean filmmaker Chan-wook Park’s first English language production Stoker (2012) is led by its colour choices, and the director’s steadfast belief that we, not him, decode the story. Wook-Park concedes only that Stoker is a fairy tale; the hero, the villain, the message, the meaning, we must decipher for ourselves.

Costume designers Kurt Swanson and Bart Mueller, collectively known as Kurt and Bart, worked closely with Chan-wook Park to incorporate specific colour and fabric choices. Some of these were taken directly from Wentworth Miller’s screenplay, such as adolescent India’s (Mia Wasikowska) high heeled shoes being leopard-skin (which incidentally they weren’t due to a suitable pattern not being found), but most came from the director. Kurt and Bart prescribed a palette to each of the central characters, one that is adhered to and then evolved. This ‘fairy tale’ is the journey of a teenager becoming, the evolution from girl to woman, prey to predator…’

Arts Illustrated can be purchased as a hard copy or download .

You can watch Mia Wasikowska in Alice in Wonderland at LOVEFiLM.com.

© 2013 – 2014, Lord Christopher Laverty.