I must confess that I didn’t exactly have the full viewing experience of French film Le dernier vol / The Last Flight (2009). This is due to the fact that I couldn’t get ahold of a copy with English subtitles, so I watched it in French. Unfortunately, my French is so rudimentary that despite my best efforts, I could comprehend no more than a few words here and there. However, I had read an outline of the plot, so I got the general idea. In addition, I knew in advance that the film had been panned for its storyline, pacing, etc., whilst being lauded for beautiful cinematography and soundtrack, so I figured I could still get something out of it even minus an understanding of the dialogue. (Plus I am always watching partly just for the costumes, which require no dialogue to grasp!)
So, here’s my rather uninformed take: firstly, I can see why the film was critiqued for being derivative, since it certainly bears some uncomfortable similarities to The English Patient (and also, I hear, to The Sheltering Sky, which I haven’t watched). I thought the acting was reasonably good from real-life couple Marion Cotillard and Guillaume Canet, but they are saddled with an implausible storyline, some anachronisms (a woman in the 1930s, wandering around alone in the desert with a bunch of unknown soldiers and local tribesmen? seems like a risky endeavour in many more ways than one….), and pacing that occasionally does achieve an impressively contemplative or elegiac feel, but just as often plods.
On the plus side, the two things for which the film has been praised (cinematography and soundtrack) were justly so. The scenery is quite breathtaking – this is definitely one of those “sweeping vista” films that would look much more amazing in the theatre on the big screen. In that sense, it reminded me a bit of Lawrence of Arabia (remember O’Toole blowing out the match, followed by that stunning sequence of the sun rising over the desert?). Other films called to mind by the honey-toned scenes of billowing sand dunes were Hidalgo, and, well, Dune. As for the soundtrack, it was a brilliant idea to bypass the usual symphonic epics in favour of Middle Eastern-themed music, courtesy of Le Trio Joubran. (Here’s a beautiful sample: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fM8r8XGrbc0)
And now, since this is not a film review blog but a costume blog, let’s move on to that aspect of the film!
Marion Cotillard (who incidentally would most likely look exquisite wearing a paper bag) is well suited to the ’30s aesthetic. Her unruly bob of brown curls seems to sum up the wayward, impulsive nature of her character (although it also apparently got in her way at times, given how often she had to push it out of her eyes!). Clothing-wise, due to the fact that she has flown into the middle of the desert in a biplane, we can assume from the get-go that she isn’t going to have that many different outfits! But the three she does wear are quite lovely….
1) her flying outfit of distressed dark brown leather jacket, trousers, and greyish neck scarf, accented by aviatrix helmet ->
2) her clothing at the camp, featuring a delicate pale blue silk blouse ->
3) her desert riding ensemble: a cream silk blouse with tiny blue accents at the neck, wide-legged beige pants, a sand-coloured linen jacket, and a light blue scarf that is alternately around her neck or swirled turban-wise over her head ->
Her male counterpart is dressed either in his Foreign Legion uniform…
…or a fairly nondescript combination of loose shirt and pants…
…or (on one occasion) in his undershirt:
I did notice and appreciate the red embroidery on the sides of the pants… you can catch glimpses here:
There’s a matching red accent in the sickle moon and star patch at the collar:
And I do like a good kepi!
~ costume design: Emmanuelle Pertus ~
For further images, here’s an article on the film from Elle France magazine, with some pics from on set…
…courtesy of this website: http://ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com/38709641.html
And finally, as an extra film-related treat, here are a couple of images from a photo shoot of Marion Cotillard in Morocco (where the movie was filmed, although not where it’s set), from InStyle magazine (the shoot is called “Fantastic Voyage”)….