The cow is a movie based on the same novel written by Gholam Hosseini. In the creation of any movie, costumes play an essential role in conveying the message articulately. Costumes are chosen based on character, age and the time frame within which a movie is meant to depict. Without the right costumes, it would be impossible to convince an audience on the message being communicated through the movie.
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Costume in a movie defines the character of the role being played, determines how well the message being passed across is received and also helps in defining the age during which the movie or play was set.
The movie is based on an Iranian history from around nineteen sixty nine. The costumes of the main character Mashd- Hassan depict a herdsman. He has a beloved relationship with his cow. He tends to it with every care in the world. The cow is his only source of income. His clothes depict a poor man who is also a sort of a herdsman. The dress is colorful with an inclusive head scarf which was traditionally meant to cover the eyes from sand.
Mashd- Hassan’s dressing depicts his position in the society. First, he is a poor herdsman because his costume does not seem to be made from expensive material. His clothes also depict his economical status in society. He is obviously a poor man owning only a single cow. The costume also depicts his social position in the society during this time. Most of the poor people dress in the same way especially during that time. Here, clothes play an important role in showing the economic and social position of this individual during the time the book was set. Furthermore, it is possible to get an idea of the type of fashion worn during this time.
At some point, Mashd- Hassan tries to imitate the one thing he loves dearly: his cow. His costume at this point is that of a complete cow with horns and udders. Mashd- Hassan feels comfortable when he is with his cow. His costume depicts a sort of a cocoon or womb and this is where he receives his safety from. Probably, the people immensely valued their animals and they were the main source of income. The tradition that can be deciphered from the costume of a cow is that of agriculture or animal keeping.
Costumes can also be used to decipher a hidden meaning in a play or movie. Just like a baby fully depends on his mother, Mashd- Hassan depends fully on his cow. When it goes missing, he tries to dress up in a cow costume just to feel more secure. He tries to make up for his loss by creating a simulation of it. From this costume, it is possible to see that Mashd- Hassan has a dangerous emotional problem.
There are also the village elders whose costumes depict their roles in society. Their traditional attire is composed of a full body gown. Even though their clothes do not look very expensive, they are almost distinguishable from those of the villagers. They are clean and better looking than those of the villagers. It is obvious that the village elders hold a special place in society. Their costume speaks of their position in society.
The villagers mode of dressing also depict the traditional form of dress at that time. The women are dressed in a form of ‘sari’ or a full body gown also known as a ‘buibui’ in dialect. They also have head dresses covering up to their eyes in some cases. This form of dressing is meant to show that a woman respects her body by covering it all over and keeping herself for her husband only.
The girls are dressed in a somewhat similar manner with their bodies covered all over. The boys on the other hand are dressed on average. It is possible to make a conclusion on the economic status of the villagers from their dressing. It is also possible to see the tradition during this time. The women respected their bodies, probably the reason why their costumes look very decent.
Generally, the costumes are a clear depiction of three main things; age, tradition and message being passed across. It is possible to tell the period within which the movie is based on. It is also possible to tell the conservative tradition of the people in that period and in that village especially from the way the women are dressed. The main character is a poor man with a single cow. His clothes give a clear explanation of this fact especially since the clothing looks haggard and dirty.
Age here refers to the historical context of the time the film is based on. It would be impossible to convince an audience if the costumes did not match the historical time. In this case, the costumes depict a time just before the Islamic revolution in Iran. It is also quite clear what the history of that time was made of. The people’s beliefs and general outlook on life can be represented by the costumes.
The building of a character is not only about learning the script alone, but it also involves internalization of the character in an actor. This is another of the many roles played by a costume in any movie. Most researchers advocate for the costume rehearsals because of the effect it has on any character. This is the same case in this movie as the character can be said to have fully internalized Mashd- Hassan’s character. Moreover, the character internalization aspect also plays a big role in the development of the plot throughout the story.
In order for an audience to understand what the movie is all about, there is need to make them believe in what they are seeing. As such, clothing or costumes of the characters may act to increase or decrease the believability aspect of the play. If the clothes in this movie were modern, it would have been impossible to make the audience believe that they were meant to see the movie as if in a previous century. This believability is also enhanced by the actors’ attitudes and their manner of speaking. For instance; every character in the play is dressed in a manner that identifies with their role in the play.
In any movie or theatrical literature, there is always a main character. This is one person who every aspect has to be perfect in order to attract the attention of the audience. As such, the costumes have to be precise to the role being played. Therefore, costumes play a major role in the placement of a character in a play.
Clothes or rather costumes play a major role in the identification of a character and his behavior in a movie. The costumes also help an ignorant audience in the development of the plot. In some cases, even without researching on the background of a movie, the clothing f the actors can help in the identification of the time frame within which the movie is based. Clothes are the only means that make an audience believe in a movie.
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