Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Hair and Makeup:
Test photos from Gone With The Wind

Like costumes, hairstyles and makeup can reveal nuance and place characters in an emotional, geographical, or historical context. Certain hairstyles, for example, are instantly associated with certain periods, such as the bob cut in the 1920s or the ducktail haircut of the 1950s. Film makeup must look natural and appropriate when magnified on the big screen. It must also be durable enough to survive multiple takes and reproducible in case retakes are needed at a later time.

The makeup reference photo of actress Vivien Leigh in Gone With The Wind, for example, suggests not only character Scarlett O'Hara's emotional state, but her current economic situation—her face is dirty from working in the dusty fields. Real tears would evaporate, and tear tracks would be different every time Leigh cried, so painting these tear stains on her face with makeup proved to be much more effective and reliable.

As the production of Gone With The Wind fell behind schedule, as many as three scenes were shot simultaneously. In order to maintain "continuity" (the seamless appearance of characters and settings across different shots), it was normal procedure to shoot makeup reference photos of every significant character.

The tear-stain photo is just one item from the "Hair and Makeup" section of the Making Movies exhibition, which opens February 9 at the Ransom Center. Follow us on our Cultural Compass blog or Twitter or become a fan on Facebook to see new items from the exhibition revealed each day for the next few weeks as part of "Script to Screen."

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Harry Ransom Center
The University of Texas at Austin
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Austin TX 78713-7219

Script to Screen

The Ransom Center is highlighting items from different sections of its upcoming exhibition Making Movies, which is organized by filmmaking jobs (director, producer, cinematographer, and more) and by iconic film scenes with materials that show how those scenes were created.

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