Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Beau Brummel: this charming man

I recently watched a wonderful dvd "Beau Brummell: This charming man" about the life of George Brummell (nicknamed Beau for obvious reasons). This movie was a BBC Television drama made in 2006 and based on the biography by Ian Kelly. You've probably all heard of this famous man, but aren't sure why.
The handsome James Purefoy (from 'Rome') plays the Regency England dandy who changed male fashion. In an era when men relied on powders, wigs and perfumes in order to appear well groomed and fashionable, Brummell's comparatively simple regiment of common-sense elegance and frequent washing was revolutionary. Matthew Rhys (from brothers and sisters) co-stars as a conniving Lord Byron while the delightful Hugh Bonneville plays the prince and future King George IV.
'Beau' Brummel (1778 - 1840) established fashion that exists today of men wearing understated, fitted dark suits with pants instead of knee britches adorned with an elaborately-knotted tie. He was known to take 5 hours to dress (while being watched by admirers, CREEPY!) and said that it was best to polish shoes with champagne (ever tried that??). He met the Prince Regent while serving his time in the military in the Tenth Light Dragoons. Through this friendship, he soon was promoted to captain by 1796. He resigned shortly afterwards and took up a house in the fashionable Mayfair in order to stay in London. He shortly burned through his rather large inheritance by gambling and shopping. After loosing the patronage of Prince George ( he called him fat to his face - ouch!), he no longer had a get out of jail free card or anyone to pay his debts. He had to flee to France in 1816 to escape debt collectors who threatened his life where he used his friendships once again to get a job as consulate in Caen. Here he died penniless years later in 1840 from complications due to Syphilis in a madhouse, not a pretty way to go.
An 1805 caricature of Brummell - compare him with James Purefoy in the movie belowWe all owe a debt to 'Beau' as he went against the times and promoted daily grooming: brushing your teeth, taking a daily bath and shaving. He also advocated pants for men and a more natural style (no wigs, powders and perfumes - those were left for the ladies!).
Hugh Bonneville as the Prince in the previous 'fashion'
This movie is very well made and entertaining filled with great acting and nice eye-candy. Definitely check it out!!
REVIEWS: Nancy Banks-Smith writing in The Guardian said the film was exquisite to see and very easy to enjoy, stating that, it was one of those plays where the director of photography and the costume and set designers, who normally bring up the rear, led the whole parade. She also compliments Hugh Bonneville for his frighteningly feasible Prince Regent. She concludes that, the Georgians had a natural beauty in their lives which makes ours seem ugly.
Jodie Pfarr writing in
The Sydney Morning Herald describes the film as an engaging costume drama romp, which provides a fascinating account of the relationship between Brummell and the prince. He calls the show, Queer eye for the straight guy 18th-century style, and concludes that the moral of the story is all can be fine and dandy until you tell someone they're fat
Visit the website for the movie at the BBC HERE including some clips from the movie.


Kwana said...

Thanks for this. The movie seems right up my alley.

pve design said...

Looks wonderful...I will bring the popcorn.

Toby Worthington said...

I must see this film! If only for the chance to witness James Purefoy in a role more sympathetic than his stint on "Rome" where he portrayed Marc Antony as a complete and total shit.
Oh, and for Hugh Bonneville's performance. Wonderful actor, Hugh...

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Well, James isn't exactly a sympathetic character here either, Toby! Still enjoyable on many levels though :-)