From Fotogrammas.es; 25/04/2017
“Behind Superman’s outfit was a Super-woman. That was Yvonne Blake, the current president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of Spain. She was the one who designed the superhero costume for the movies directed by Richard’s Donner and Lester, and originating from the comic-book character created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster .
‘The Superman Costume’ is a short film by the Algecirian filmmaker Juan Manuel Díaz Lima, who reveals the in’s and out’s of the creation of the Man of Steel’s dress through its own creator.
The costume designer has four Goya awards (‘Remando al viento’, ‘Canción de cuna’, ‘Carmen’ and ‘El puente de San Luis Rey’) and won an Oscar for the film ‘Nicolás and Alejandra’ in 1971. She has also been part of the technical team of productions such as ‘Fahrenheit 451’, ‘Robin and Marian’, ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’, ‘Don Juan in the Underworld’ and ‘The Goya Ghosts’ among many others.
The Documentary also includes interviews with directors, film critics, seventh art scholars and experts on Krypton’s most famous inhabitant who serve to contextualize and understand the fascination with the designer’s work. Among the personalities are: Jesús Palacios, Antonio Sánchez-Escalonilla, Carlos Díaz Maroto, Miguel Ángel Vivas, Jordi Claramonte, Raúl Álvarez, Manuel M. Velasco, Iskander López, Jorge Jiménez, Jordi Costa, Víctor Matellano and José Manuel Serrano Cueto.
DirectorJuan Manuel Díaz Lima holds a degree in Audiovisual Communication and Doctor from the Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid. His filmography includes several documentaries and several fiction short films and director of several video clips.
‘The Superman Costume’ is a film financed with the support of the Community of Madrid by Creta Producciones SL, Veo Veo Producciones SL and Pasajes Invisibles SL.”
Debuting on the 19th week of the Short Film of the Community of Madrid, The Superman Costume, a new documentary apparently made without the authorisation or involvement of DC Comics or Warner Bros. seems to have passed right under the radar of the English-Speaking world.
Now a National treasure in her adoptive home country of Spain, legendary designer Blake has already been the subject of a book so it was only a matter of time before she herself made the transition to film, although precious little information about the picture itself seems available online.
With the subject matter obviously very dear to SUPERMANIA’s heart, a hand is extended to our Spanish readership for more information on this (or indeed a link where it can be watched) In the hope it may share some valuable revelations. In the meantime, enjoy the excellent piece below written by Irene Velasco for the Spanish newspaper El Mundo ;
A self-respecting superhero cannot leave his wardrobe in the hands of anyone. And even less so when it comes to the definitive Superman. When the Man of Steel decided in 1978 to make the leap from the pages of the comic to the big screen actor Christopher Reeve needed one of the most reputed specialists in the world to take care of his wardrobe. A woman who had as an arduous mission to dignify, as much as possible, a garment that she herself recognised as quite ridiculous, composed of an electric blue suit with a large “S” printed on the chest accompanied by a cloak and Red underpants. Her goal was to make the grotesque combination work in the movies. She achieved it. This heroine is Yvonne Blake, who has made costumes for some 58 films (some as mythical as Jesus Christ Superstar), has dressed dancers and singers of numerous ballets and operas, has worked under François Truffaut , won An Oscar for best costume for the film Nicolas and Alexandra (1971), has four Goyas awards, has dressed legends the likes of Marlon Brando, Robert de Niro, Audrey Hepburn, Sean Connery, Ava Gardner and Elizabeth Taylor . Since July 2016 she is the president of the Spanish Film Academy. A 76-year-old superwoman has led an exciting life. Aware that a hem, a stitching, or a tie could be more damaging to Superman’s image than the Kryptonite itself, Yvonne made it seamless. The Man of Steel’s suit she made for the film had, of course, the usual seams, but she managed to keep them well hidden and keep her superhuman reputation safe. She also prepared Superman layers of 25 different fabrics, with the aim of getting the desired movement in each of the shots before the camera. But the biggest problem, she confesses, was to find the exact blue. “No doubt that was the most complicated,” reveals Yvonne as she pulls out of a large portfolio the original sketch of the figure, whose upper left corner still retains a sample of that happy fabric that cost him so much. The difficulty was that it was necessary that the patina was not too blue or too greenish to serve for the chroma-key, that technique in which certain scenes (especially those that require special effects) are rolled on a background. But there were also other difficulties. “Christopher Reeve was very nervous, he was sweating a lot, and because his skin was very sensitive and he was immediately irritated, he could not use deodorant,” recalls Yvonne. Result: Superman appeared constantly in the armpits a very little dark patches, an unmistakable sign that the superhero transpired. “We solved the situation the only way we could: drying Christopher Reeve’s sweat stains with a hair dryer.”
Marlon Brando is one of the actors that impressed me the most,” she says.. “He had a fantastic sense of humour, and he was not vain, on the contrary, in the first costume test he did not even bother looking at himself in the mirror, sating he would leave it in our hands.” She made a special cloth suit that reflected the light and made it look white, as if it radiated energy. “He told me that he had a hard time memorising the dialogue, and he often had to use large posters to remember his script, sometimes writing on his hand and sometimes directly off the forehead of the actress when she was off- camera. He also said that this inability to memorise was what prevented him from doing theatre.
But before reaching the summit and making the mythical suit of Superman , Yvonne Blake had to go a long way from Salford, the northern city of England where he was born in 1941. “I have been very lucky in life but also a lot of push, I’ve always been ambitious. Once I had a goal in my head, I went for it,” She confesses…