Monday, 30 January 2012
The costume design in The Descendants may not be the thing that has most people talking about it, but its clever, subtle but very powerful use of Hawaiian print had me transfixed. In a film where the concept of ancestory is central, the Hawaiian print acts alongside the family pictures on the walls of Clooney's home.
At the beginning of the film Clooney makes a jibe at those who believe people who live in Hawaii to be living in Paradise. 'How can they think our lives are any less fucked up than their's', he says. The Hawaiian print bears this imprint- of a colonised past, a sad history behind a utopian aesthetic.
In the film, it is worn on bikinis, shirts and on the duvet of a woman as she dies in her hospital bed, later used by her family to comfort themselves. The more I looked at it, the more I saw the design as a kind of shadow-catcher print; an image of a wilting flower, of a lost paradise; a descendant.