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Wednesday
Oct292014

Threads: "Know your place. Accept your place. Be a shoe"

Each Wednesday in "Threads" we'll be obsessing over a single costume we're fixated on that week. This one's an apology: how on earth did Snowpiercer get left out of those Halloween Costume Suggestions yesterday?

Tilda Swinton spends the bulk of her screentime in Snowpiercer, now on DVD, in a politican-conservative white top and matching skirt adorned with medals. Well, as white as clothing can be in the sooty environs of this dystopian movie where the earth's only living citizens have lived on a speeding train for decades. But when we first see her she's wearing an burnt orange fur with matching tinted glasses, over a brilliant purple skirt suit and boy does it pop surrounded by the grays, blacks, and dour miserabilism of the train. The costume's purpose? Surely to intimidate with its wealthy grandeur and add to that same miserablism. Or, as costume designer Catherine George put it in an interview with Clothes on Film, her inspiration was

...images of women from the from late 60’s/early 70’s, a certain type that I remembered growing up who would wear their fur to go into town and scoff at people who were less better off, a bit of a Margaret Thatcher type, really. The suit was a typical conservative politician shape and style – the purple has the royal quality and it pops with the colour of the fur.

Minister Mason launches into her instantly classic "Be a shoe" monologue in this ensemble in order to put the low class citizens in their 'back of the train' place.

The costume is glorious but Tilda is crazy enough to be hideously unattractive within it. Despite her fashion icon status and ageless alien beauty, the actress has always been without vanity as a performer and the cinema is all the better for it.  The tables are eventually turned on Mason, a self proclaimed "hat" to inferior "shoes," and she is forced to wear a shoe on her own head.

A shoe is not a hat. Except when Tilda wears it, fully revelling in its absurdity.

New group fantasy for the weekend: What if everyone on earth dressed up as their favorite Tilda character this weekend? All  these unforgivingly cruel and icy dystopias that are so in vogue would melt away leaving a Swintonian Utopia in their place.

Snowpiercer is now available on Netflix Instant Watch 
Related: this year's Oscar race for costume design 
Previously on "Threads": Outlander 

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Reader Comments (11)

This is coming to Netflix mid-November and I am SO EXCITED! I'm still kicking myself for missing it the first time around.

October 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMargaret

I choose Orlando. Any of the periods except the 18th century (that dress looks like a bitch to deal with). Perhaps the Victorian would be top of the list because then I get Billy Zane as an accessory although I really like the car in the last segment too.

October 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

I'm on the lookout for even one critics' group to throw her a Supporting Actress prize, just to declare her an outside shot for a nomination. I really loved her in it.

October 29, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterzig

Tilda seemed like she was in a different movie from everyone else in Snowpiercer. I would like to fire them all and replace them with people in Tilda's movie.

October 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSan FranCinema

Tilda's line delivery is everything in this movie. Seriously considered doing Minister Mason for Halloween but opted for something that required less explanation to my plebeian friends.

October 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBD

Love EVERYTHING about Tilda in Snowpiercer. The rest of the movie not quite as much, but I thought she was really quite brilliant, especially with that "BE. A SHOE" monologue. Instantly iconic. If I were a bit braver I would totally do that costume for Halloween because I have access to a very similarly-colored fur-like thing.

October 29, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

Love EVERYTHING about Tilda in Snowpiercer. The rest of the movie not quite as much, but I thought she was really quite brilliant, especially with that "BE. A SHOE" monologue. Instantly iconic. If I were a bit braver I would totally do that costume for Halloween because I have access to a very similarly-colored fur-like thing.

October 29, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

A friend dressed up as Tilda in the glass box art installation last year for Halloween. It remains my favorite Halloween costume of all time.

October 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Marie

Possibly the single greatest performance this decade.

*mini-SPOILER*
I was de-va-sta-ted when she died.

October 29, 2014 | Unregistered Commentergoran

Tilda looks so much like Michelle Nunn, the Democratic Senatorial candidate from Georgia, in this film!

October 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTyler

Shoe as a hat! Finally found my last-minute Halloween costume! But seriously, she's great in the film. Is there even ANY hope of awards attention in the next few months for it?

As for my Tilda costume... I'd pick the White Witch from Chronicles of Narnia. BUT only if a half -naked half-human James McAvoy will be my accessory.

October 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

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