Le full trailer for Luc Besson’s latest film as director, Les Aventures Extraordinaires d’Adele Blanc-Sec (The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec) has arrived on the net. It is the early 20th Century and ladies wore massive hats.
Based on the dual French/Belgian comics of writer/illustrator Jacques Tardi, the movie, like the books, follows the escapades of heroine Adèle Blanc-Sec, an eligible investigative journalist who battles crime and mythical monsters while all the time endeavouring to ‘act like a lady’. The stories first appeared in 1976 and are set in the 1910s and later on around 1918, after Blanc-Sec is cryogenically frozen for the duration of The Great War. No, this is definitely not Tin-Tin in a dress.
Besson’s film concentrates on the 1910s period. This would be the Edwardian era in the UK or for France, very much leaders of the fashion world at that point, ‘La Belle Époque’ (translation: The Beautiful Era). For women this meant a time of unrivalled clothing opulence. The rich set the pace and those who could not afford to keep up followed their ‘betters’ with laboriously stitched homemade copies.
The vogue was heavy silks and satins with wide hats festooned in artificial flowers, feathers and occasionally grass. Lace was applied liberally to add even more heavy-handed femininity to the ‘S-Bend’ corset contorting a woman’s’ bosom forwards and pelvis straight back. The silhouette may have been sexually seductive but this was not a time for revealing cleavage; necklines were high as could be, finishing just behind the jaw. This was a pretty look alright; though wearing it on a daily basis must have required delicate breath control, not to mention some seriously early starts.
The Belle Époque’s extravagance is reflected in Les Aventures Extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec trailer. Costume designer Olivier Bériot admittedly has an ornate period to work with, although it has to be said Louise Bourgoin as Adèle Blanc-Sec does seem rather modern in facial shape and demeanour. Yet that natural Parisian elegance still shines through, even when leaping from a resurrected dinosaur, dragging on a cigarette or flashing topless in the bath.
Even though this film will probably not be a massive hit internationally due to requiring subtitles (sad but true), it will hopefully lead to a directorial career reboot for so-nineties retro Besson. If Les Aventures Extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec does not set-up a franchise we will eat the faux flowers on our very large hat. It’s out in France on 14th April.
© 2010 – 2012, Christopher Laverty.