Ever dress up as a character from a novel? And I don’t mean the movie version of the character.
I can’t think of any non-movie literary costumes. Alice in Wonderland’s iconic blue and white dress comes from the Disney version. Same with nearly all the costumes we see for Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.
In truth, from what I’ve observed, book-inspired costumes are pretty rare. Superheroes are common, but all the visual emphasis of comic books puts them in a different category. I once saw a great Harry Dresden costume based on the Jim Butcher novels (and not the television version), but that’s about the only one I can think of.
It might be because costumes are fully visual and books aren’t—except that a lot of people get very clear images in their heads when they read.
Or maybe it’s because when a movie comes out, its images thoroughly usurp those that readers formed in their own imagination. That thought scares me, but it would explain why it’s so tough for movie adaptations to please book readers.
I think the real reason is that each of us creates our own visions when we read. These visions are powerful and precious to each of us, but they’re never identical to anyone else’s visions. But that’s a beautiful thing, because it means each of us has the potential to envision a whole world as we read that exists nowhere else in the universe, not even in the heads of others who read the same thing.
Have you ever tried to make a costume based on a book character? Have you ever tried to make your vision of something you read visible to others in some other way, perhaps through a drawing? It’s a good thing to play with the possibilities because you’re building bridges between your world and someone else’s.
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