ROCKETMAN RAZZLE AND DAZZLES
I’m really not usually into musicals, but I must say I still haven’t come down from the high of Elton John’s most dazzling and spectacular biopic, Rocketman (directed by Dexter Fletcher). As much as I’d love to write a proper review for the film its already been done, so I suggest you read writer Mark Kermode’s for The Guardian.
It’s the story of a little boy who became a big star while plaintively pleading “I want lurrve, but it’s impossible”; a shy kid (an “introverted extrovert”) who must learn to play-act confidence after enduring a childhood that would have struck a chord with Philip Larkin.
Philip Larkin, being one of my favourite authors in English Lit, one who found depth in the very ordinary and I loved studying his poetry in high school. Anyways back to the film. The acting phenomenal, the directing incredible but for this post I’m going to focus on the work of the costume designer Julian Day ( who also worked with Fletcher on Bohemian Rhapsody). The look of the costumes and film sets were influenced by the work of photographer David LaChapelle, but the starting point for the costumes was the work of Bob Mackie, the designer of many of Elton and Cher’s most memorable stage outfits. Day adopted the costumes worn at the carnivals in Venice and Rio as his source material because “Elton wanted to be entertained and surprised rather than dictating the whole nature of the film.”
“Rocketman” starts with a flamboyantly dressed Elton in a bright orange devilish bird outfit entering rehab in 1990, trying to rid himself of his many addictions and traumas ( “ I’m an alcoholic, sex addict, drug addict, bulimic, probably a shopaholic and need to control my anger management).’ The film unfolds as he tells of how he ended up so broken. As he confesses pieces of his costume come off, ( devil horns, wings, and the more he opens up about his life what remains are his heart shaped glasses, very much parallel for his emotional longing for love and affection.
The same way the film tributes Elvis as a big style influence, I thought credit should have been given to Bowie, who surely made an impact on Elton with his sparkles, onesies, and androgynous outfits that made him an icon.
The only one of Mackie’s costumes Day actually re-created was a Los Angeles Dodgers uniform Elton wore in 1975. Whereas Mackie’s original was covered in sequins, Day used Swarovski crystals. In all, he used about a million of the crystals on 64 costumes and 40 pairs of glasses in the film. “They add that extra dimension, and there is a nice reflection on them,” Day says. “They elevate any costume. It is about the excess, the larger than life, and the fantasy element.
For a little more movie trivia, I got some additional information on the detail of the costumes planned for the “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” bit, Elton ( played by Egerton) wears an ensemble throughout this part that nods all the main characters of the Wizard of Oz, ( Dorothy’s ruby red shoes, the fake fur coat to the lion, the straw hat -the scarecrow and the silver shirt to the Tin Man), pretty fantastic if you ask me and definitely Oscar buzz.