Bad Boy as a Force of Nature

‘Bad Boys’ come in all shapes and sizes, but the real form of rebelliousness that our culture always needs are those who serve humanity through the depths of their experiences; from the good through the bad. Marlon Brando is unique in this regard. The film industry is the perfect channel that actors/actresses use as a vehicle of self-expression for us as their audience, so we can see, feel and be motivated by our own vulnerabilities of the human condition. The depths of ‘bad’ in masculine identity is very different than that of the feminine, than that of all other identities in between. How we dress is an obvious statement of our varying attitudes that shape and guide us.

Below is a short clip of Sean Penn talking about his good friend Marlon Brando, a kind of ‘bad boy’ that continues to inspire us non-actors and actors alike. Marlon Brando was a genius and magician in his craft.

Costume in film is one avenue to tell a character’s story. Sometimes current fashions come from the film industry like the ‘bad boy’ image below in THE WILD ONE with Marlon Brando. Since fashion is so broad and ‘anything goes’ from vintage to wide pants to skinnies, from wigs to multicolored dyed hair, from natural skin to all ranges of makeup, would this style pass today as just another outfit worn by a guy? Would we take a second look if we saw this very outfit on a man or a woman or any other gender? Has the ‘bad boy’ (so to speak) image been totally absorbed into mainstream? Many of us have black leather jackets of a kind, and wear Levis (jeans) cuffed up above the ankle, perhaps many of us in the Western world have worn or have owned cowboy (Frye) boots at one point or another.

What's he wearing?

Marlon Brando

What is BAD BOY now? Where is that defining edge of sartorial revolt in our culture? How would you dress up as one who is rebellious? (boy or girl or any other range of self-image in relation to one’s sexual identity). New identities of body and expression emerge out of social conflicts, out of personal despair, out of differing belief systems and they push us to tolerate new possibilities of living and lifestyle. I suppose because there are so many differences under the umbrella of humanity, rebellious dress really comes about in relation to particular circumstances and context. We know that dressing in stereotypes are get ups for Hallowe’en, the working world, social groups or thematic celebrations. My take is that what we own to be our ‘dress’ is idiosyncratic to the individual even though we will never stop yearning to belong to something larger than ourselves. It is this very paradox of individual and community relationship that continues to spin us in innumerable orbits. With our undying spirit to invent with our available resources and the images we have of ourselves, the evolution of dress continues. Just how it does persist is the beauty of our ‘character’ we wear today.

 


Costume Designer Mark Bridges: Still Image from The Artist

THE ARTIST- Costume Designer Mark Bridges

The Artist movie (The Weinstein Co.)

The Artist- a film still

A moment of love, anticipation, self-love, longing and peace. Mark Bridges articulates the dress of Peppy Miller here played by Bérénice Bejo to stand out from the background curtains and wall. He designed/chose the dress with stripes and  swirly motifs, of sequins in patterns which all separate her from the surroundings. Because the film was transferred into black and white, Mark Bridges had to be mindful of this phenomena so that depth and the dynamic use of space with figure is maintained visually and carries the story in an exciting way. Mark Bridges does this brilliantly.

Above is a black white collage of some ladies in contemporary 20’s fashion. I created it. The ladies are connected to the abstract trees. In this case I had to separate them away from their environment because the  patterning that is in their garments is also in the trees. Close to camouflage. This is the opposite to what Mark Bridges had to resolve. His characters had to stand out in the sets at all times.

To freshen your memory, watch the trailer of  THE ARTIST  by Director Michel Hazanavicius if you can. You gotta love the 20’s style.


WHAT ‘LOVE’ DOES in film

ON THE WATERFRONT

with

Marlon Brando and Eva Marie Saint.

‘Character’ uses a number of devices to reveal itself in narratives such as On the Waterfront and Moulin Rouge.  Psychological tension, the allure of beauty and connection and the context of which time period, which social class, is it comedy or tragedy are all affiliated with the role of character.

With Terry and Edie the love scene is obvious, we want them together, it is just a matter of time in the story and on it goes. The pauses, gazing interest between them and background music seep into the longings of the viewer, there is no escape we are trapped by their iconic stature and beauty.

Moulin Rouge was fun too. The possibilities of love, those original feelings of exuberance always hit the heartstrings of the poet, the lover and eros the muse. Here there is no hidden psychological tension instead we glimpse at the full expression of love’s range, the impossibly true and fleeting, all externalized and shared to its audience.

For me Brando is real, complex, unpredictable while Moulin Rouge is addiction, potential, suffering and fantasy. Both equally powerful.

Costume Design carries the story.  On the Waterfront boxer Brando wears his checkered coat and corduroy pants which in a black and white film add as much visual texture as his scarred eyebrow. Eva Marie Saint is incredibly feminine regardless of what she wears. Old black and whites don’t have to work hard in creating character, their cinematic elegance and simplicity keeps them in a genre of utter classiness.

In Moulin Rouge the colors, music, sets and costumery are outrageous and glorious.

When you reflect back on those seminal ‘love’ moments in your life, don’t they seem momentous, blinding and make you smile? and they take you right back to the exact time, place and people. It’s as if memory and our emotional responses to our experiences is the world of our soul.

Being human is a full experience. How rich we all are!