A trailer for Hammer Productions’ The Woman in Black starring Daniel Radcliffe has arrived like a sudden mist on an October morning, bringing with it that wonderful sense of dread only a Victorian setting can provide.
Playing young solicitor Arthur Kipps, Radcliffe’s recently bereaved single father travels from London to a cursed village in the East Coast, its marshes haunted by sightings of a ‘woman in black’. The film, like the novel by Susan Hill and stage play of the same name, is set during an undetermined period in the 1800s. By the looks of Keith Madden’s classic, traditionally English themed costumes, probably towards the end of the century.
What little we can actually see of the costume design is centred almost entirely on Kipps. He strides, seemingly on arrival in the village, wearing a grey with fine block stripe waistcoat, matching high-waist trousers and frock coat, over which he wears a black ‘top frock’; a double breasted, calf length coat with fabric buttons and satin faced lapels, intended to be worn solely as outerwear, i.e. over an ‘under’ frock and waistcoat. The dark colour palette is obviously reflective of the story’s mood and Kipps’ grief, yet would also signify a time frame of around 1880s, before check waistcoats and trousers became fashionable.
Other sartorial points worth noting are Kipps’ wing collar shirt and knotted necktie, not the typical silk cravat tied in a large bow generally seen until around 1870 in London. He wears his matching under frock open, its front swept away towards the hips; the horizontal seam of his coat can be just about glimpsed. Immediately Radcliffe’s ensemble gives off that pleasing period vibe so beloved by Hammer, his appearance akin to young Ralph Bates. It would be nice to see a top hat too, but maybe that will become evident in later trailers and clips.
The Woman in Black directed by James Watkins and based on a screenplay by Jane Goldman is due for release in lovely, perfect, please-don’t-post-convert-it 2D on 10th February 2012.
© 2011 – 2012, Christopher Laverty.