The visual appearance and interpretation of any theatrical production, be it stage or screen does not depend solely on the artistic nuances of the director(s) only, rather, the additional practical elements which includes the technicalities involved during the pre-production, production and post-production stages.
Costume and makeup has played a pivotal role in every production be it stage or screen aeons ago. It is on this note that the researcher has chosen Visual Interpretation of Costume and Makeup in Lancelot Imasuen’s epical movie Invasion 1897, to reveal the hidden interpretation costume and makeup plays and to project the undiluted message it passes to the audience. This research equally looks at the theatrical philosophical, ideological, sociological and visual aspect of costume and makeup while equally examining the thematic analysis and an artistic appraisal of costume and makeup in the movie. This research work was actualized based on materials gotten from the library, the movie Invasion 1897, journals, magazines, online articles and some unpublished works. Through the cause of this research, it has been discovered that most Nigerian home videos fail to appreciate the use of costume and makeup. Also, some film directors, makeup artistes and costume designers pay little or no attention in the creation of creative costume and makeup. It is recommended by the researcher that forums should be established for costume and makeup majors in Nigerian Universities. It can be deduced here that costume and makeup constitutes the total visual appearance of an actor giving the production its deserved look and beauty.
1.0 Background to the Study
Costume and Makeup remain two of the most fundamental visual elements of the theatre. Theatre historians trace the origin of the arts of the theatre to ancient Greece with the dramatic rituals which they enacted both as a form of entertainment and as a tool for social celebration and communication. Costume and makeup according to Brockett, were some of the most vital elements that enhanced these successful performances. Thus, through the wearing of masks and other stylized costumes, they impersonated men, animals, or supernatural beings and mimed the desired effects. Simply put, out of such dramatic rituals, theatre is said to have emerged (18).
From the above, it could be deduced that the arts of costume and makeup first emanated from the dramatic rituals of the early men, from whence they evolved into being two of the most visually instructive elements of the theatre. According to Cohen, costume has always been a major element in the theatrical experience. It is the vehicle for the “dressing up” that actors and audience alike have always considered a requirement for the fullest degree of theatrical satisfaction” (117).
Essentially, an actor or performer in the theatre wears costume (clothes and accessories) to portray a character before an audience. The primary aim of costume and makeup design is therefore to transform an actor or a performer into the character being portrayed and to aid the audience in understanding and appreciating the performance. As tools of visual communication, costume and makeup possess tremendous power to capture the attention of the audience and in the process intensify moods and convey messages through non-verbal means. In other words, costume and makeup “heighten the aesthetic value of the play, offering basic information and enhancing the play’s interpretation”. Among other objectives, costume and makeup designs are to set the tone and style, indicate time and place, characterize individuals and groups, underline personal relationships, create symbolic outfits and when appropriate, meet the practical needs of performers as well as coordinate the entire production.
On the other hand, film may be regarded as cultural artifacts created by specific cultures which reflect and affect them. It is considered an important artform, a source of entertainment and a tool for educating or indoctrinating the citizens of a society. It is a medium of mass communication which is very powerful when effectively packaged and employed. According to Okonkwo, the film medium is unique because “it transcends and surmounts the functional barriers of language and culture difference by the combination of the creative and communicative qualities of visual and audio effects” (72). Costume, makeup and film producers are a triumvirate that needs one another for proper externalization. A film can be easily understood through costume and makeup. Thus, this research is attempting a visual interpretation of costume and makeup in Lancelot Imasuen’s Invasion 1897.
1.1 Statement of the Research Problem
Many tend to see costume and makeup as they see our daily dressing and fashion. This study reveals that costume and makeup is different from our everyday wears, because the actors acting tends to imitate another person. It is on this record that the researcher posits to clear this fact and mend the bridge and barriers that tend to make people fail to appreciate costume and makeup in productions.
Another problem this work sets to solve is the believe of the audience that a rich actor with a good costume and makeup is rich in life and a poor actor with tattered cloth and worn out makeup is poor in real life. Also, the researcher chooses this topic to debunk the claim that Nigerian movies are nothing to write home about in the aspect of costume and makeup, and proves that our history and culture can be preserved and seen from the use of costume and makeup.
Costume and makeup are vibrant artistic medium of the theatre as tools of cultural expression. Apart from being the item of clothing or bodily adornments worn by performers, costume and makeup enhance cultural aesthetics, artistic styles and tradition. Nigeria is a multi-cultural entity with each ethnic tribe peculiar in its intricate costume or clothing and bodily arts. Edwin Wilson states, “virtually every aspect of theatre has practical as well as aesthetic requirement, and costume design is no exception; no matter how attractive or how symbolic, costume must work, for the performers” (122). It is so true, because costume and makeup has the capability to bring out the hidden interpretation embedded in the play. This essence is captured in Lancelot Imasuen’s film Invasion 1897. A flick which tells the dramatic stories of western invasion into the culturally-rich Benin Kingdom of Nigeria. The Benin people are the custodians of some of the most spectacular and intricate costume and makeup tradition in the whole of Africa (213). Thus, this study finds it interesting to thematically appraise the role of costume and makeup in Lancelot Imasuen’s Invasion 1897.
1.2 Justification of the Study
This research was chosen to highlight the role and effectiveness of costume and makeup as metaphors in the visual interpretation and understanding of a film; and in extension any theatrical production. No doubt, costume and makeup represent cultural backgrounds, cultural values and behaviours.
They also enhance and preserve cultural identity and awaken the spirit of cultural aesthetics and consciousness among a group of people. In addition, the study aims at motivating confident experimental practitioners who will push the boundaries of costume in the Nigerian film industry beyond its traditional role.
The study also aims at exposing the unlimited possibilities in costume design and makeup creativity; thus encouraging practitioners to utilize these opportunities in order to alternate the problems of inadequate identification in costume and makeup designs. Apart from contributing to the existing body of knowledge, this study also demonstrates the validity of the general belief that costume and makeup worn by a particular tribe is a reflection of the people’s artistic and aesthetic culture. Ultimately, this study also aims to identify cultural costume and makeup design in Lancelot Imasuen’s Invasion 1897.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
This research work is set to achieve the following objectives;
i. To examine the visual interpretation of Costume and Makeup in Invasion 1897 movie.
ii. To review some related literature based on the philosophical, ideological, sociological and visuality of costume and makeup.
iii. To examine the purpose of costume and makeup in movies using Lancelot’s Invasion 1897 as focus.
iv. To assess the role costume and makeup plays in character and characterization of the movie Invasion 1897.
v. To investigate the contribution of costume and makeup in theatrical performances.
vi. To appraise the costume and makeup as seen in the movie Invasion 1897.
vii. To proffer possible suggestions and solutions to the problem of nonchalant attitudes of directors, costume designers and makeup artistes in movie productions.
1.4 Significance of the Study
This study is significant because it emphasizes the need for creative accurate and meaningful choice of costume and makeup in the Nigerian film industry as these factors will enhance cultural values and identification. By doing so, the study will tackle the issues of inadequate representation in costume design in Nigeria and even the lack in makeup creativity. The excellence displayed by the producers of this film will expel the skepticism displayed by organizations that are keen on making endowments for film production in Nigeria.
This study will help to correct the misconception that cultural identity such as the identification in costume and makeup design in Imasuen’s Invasion 1897 are usually done as a result of the availability of the required costumes. Nonetheless, in educational theatre, such efforts should be recommended rather than condemned; so as to encourage further cultural identification. This study will also add to the existing literature in the area of costume and makeup design; thus motivating further research in these areas. The study which revealed the artistic and cinematic success of Invasion 1897 will surely lead to the production of other remarkable historical films.
1.5 Limitation of the Study
This study is limited to but not wholly confined to the role of costume and makeup in the thematic analysis of Lancelot Imasuen’s Invasion 1897. It is a movie which captures the European invasion of the ancient Benin Kingdom and the results of the ripple effects it generated on the culture and history of the people.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The scope of the study centres around the effective use of costume and makeup in the interpretation and externalization of the thematic contents of Imasuen’s Invasion 1897. It also takes into cognizance the fact that a film is an offshoot of the theatre, thus the practice of costume and makeup design in the theatre and film have a point of convergence. Thus, the researcher is approaching this research from the perspective of show-casing costume and makeup and its effectiveness on people’s culture and practices as well as its relevance as an aspect of the theatre.
1.7 Method of the Study
The methods of research adopted for this evaluation are observations and content analysis of the case study. The research relies on data collected in the film production used as case study.