Indy at 40: clothes make the character | Lifestyles
The clothes make the character
FROM THE ARCHIVES: Deborah Landis opened up about the creation of the Indiana Jones costume in a 2005 interview with Ben Beagle, editor of Daily News Lifestyles, before hosting a screening of the film at George Eastman House in Rochester. We revisit this month as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the theatrical release of “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. The following is an edited version of the 2005 story:
Director Steven Spielberg knew exactly the look he wanted for Indiana Jones: a tough adventurer with a well-worn leather jacket, a bull whip and a cool hat.
It was up to costume designer Deborah Nadoolman Landis to make sure the public bought into the idea of the terrifying but brilliant archaeologist first featured in 1981 in “Raiders of the Lost Ark”.
“When you go to a movie, before the audience hears a dialogue, the character is revealed through their clothes,” Landis said in a 2005 interview with The Daily News.
The interview took place before a presentation Landis was giving at George Eastman House in Rochester in which she presented a screening of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and spoke about the role of a costume designer. Landis was then president of the Custom Designers Guild.
The screening was part of the museum’s “Masters of Their Craft: The Costume Designer as Storyteller”, a series curated by Landis.
The films, representing a large sample of works from the silent era to the present day, were designed to inform the costume design process, which begins with a script and continues until the last day of filming. It also seeks to dispel some common myths and misconceptions about the trade.
Attitudes towards design are starting to change, Landis said in a telephone interview.
“Everyone comes to the movies to see actors, and the actors fill the center of the frame. And the actors usually wear clothes. The audience pays attention in the middle of the screen, that’s our job, ”said Landis.
Costume design is finally being recognized as an important part of the production process, Landis said.
Designing costumes goes beyond what the character wears, even one as iconic as Indiana Jones. “Our job is less to make clothes than to analyze scenarios and screens. Costumes and fashion are antithetical, ”said Landis. “We build a character’s personality, then look at the costume. It’s a lot less fashionable and more who you are.
Landis said the best costume design disappears into the film’s tapestry, including sets, costumes and lighting. The mark of a great costume design, she said, is “clothes that don’t call attention to themselves but communicate authentic characters.”
While Indiana Jones is most recognizable as an action hero, there is much more to him than the quest for artifacts. “He’s like a comic book superhero,” Landis said. “He has an alter ego, the archeology professor.
Indy’s faculty side, briefly revealed in “Raiders,” wears a classic brown tweed sports coat and tortoiseshell sunglasses. It’s the same color palette as the adventurer.
“It is deliberately so,” said Landis. “Earth tones show vulnerability, attraction. He is warm, generous in spirit. He can be hurt. He’s not just an adventurer.
Landis, wife of director John Landis, has been a costume designer on nearly two dozen films. She received an Oscar nomination in 1989 for “Coming to America”. She worked on “Animal House”, “1941” by Spielberg and “The Blues Brothers” before “Raiders of the Lost Ark”.
The Indiana Jones character costume was inspired by a concept art painting for the film showing a tall, broad-shouldered man looking out over the desert. He wears the familiar jacket and a distinctive felt, while holding a whip.
The base costume remained the same, with a few changes – mainly the size – after Harrison Ford replaced the taller Tom Selleck as the main character.
“Deb really refined the costume and made it less pictorial and more lived-in and more honest with who Harrison Ford was and how he could wear those clothes,” Spielberg explained in a DVD featurette on Raiders of the Lost Ark. sort of rethought it so that Harrison was indelibly just Indiana Jones for the rest of his career.