Con Yvonne…

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…

From Slater With Love…

Showmasters Collectormania finally came to Birmingham this month after a long absence from the UK Midlands.  A show nestled somewhere between a Con and a Collector’s fair its consistent crowning achievement is the calibre of guests it manages to attract.

SUPERMANIA has attended the show for years, starting in arguably its best suited venue, Centre:MK, where such Super-Alumni as Jack O’ Halloran, Sarah Douglas and Brandon Routh would appear and later, in the Ill-judged transition to The MK Dons Stadium Marc McClure would be meeting and signing for a multitude of fans.

So it was with particular excitement that it was announced noneother than Helen Slater would be flying into the second city as this time there was an opportunity to have a picture taken together by a pro photographer so what better excuse to dust off the costume after Superman IV: Redux?  

Every bit as demure and age-defying as the pics above suggest, Ms. Slater seemed totally unfazed by the many cosplayers who had donned the cape for the event and seemed flattered when complimented on her contribution to the Superhero genre – with her appearances in Smallville and the current Supergirl series being aired on the CW.  The 10×8 selected for signing had been bought in advance (notice the flap hanging down beneath the armpits on a Chris Reeve cape!) and the result (top pic) was a very happy fanboy.

Next month marks a historic occasion in Super-Fandom as Showmasters have managed to do it again by assembling no less than all three supervillians from Superman II for the very first (and most likely last) time as Terence Stamp attends his first-ever Sci-Fi convention.  SUPERMANIA will of course be there and will deliver a full report and hopefully a group photo!  Stay tuned…

Happy \S/ Day…

What better way to spend World Superman Day than a marathon screening of the original and best Superhero Quadrilogy – still the standard by which all others are judged?

SUPERMANIA admits one and all by way of the latest addition to the collection – these super-rare Japanese tickets issued exclusively for each release.  Why not watch a DVD or Blu-Ray tonight to celebrate the ever-enduring Man of Tomorrow?

And if you haven’t already look to your right and click on the all-new SUPERMANIA Scrapbook on Instagram.  There you will find an archive of rare and unusual images not found on the site – this will be updated constantly so keep checking back..!

R&B…

As significant and reliable a gift to fandom as its sister publications Starlog and Fangoria, vintage publication Comics Scene was regarded as a pre-internet bible for the medium and its various transitions to the big & small screen.

Indeed, arguably the most compelling aspect of the magazine were ‘The Comics Screen’ found in the back pages which featured an alphabetical list of all the comic-book based films either in production or ‘development hell’ where many would languish (and remain unmade to this day).

Toward the end of the ‘S’ column in Issue #1 of the second volume (the first being a short run between 1982-83), however, Superman IV was not only listed as in release but also on the cover of the special (top pic) for the start of a revival of the periodical which would last until 1996.

Consistently running pieces on the comics industry alongside the cinematic adaptations, the Superman double-whammy would be interviews with actor Christopher Reeve and comic-book writer/artist John Byrne, who, on the back of his huge success with origin-revision Man of Steel  was now heading up the monthly Superman book.  While Byrne speaks candidly about his process of ‘clearing off the barnacles’ from fifty years of mythos to get back to basics, Reeve offers his personal insights into the development of the character and his recent intervention in the arms race (above).

Decades later, its interesting to note that Byrne’s highest hopes were that his Superman be remembered in the same regard as Neal Adams or Curt Swan’s while Reeve’s desire was the character remain a leader rather than a muscleman.  Between them, both of these ideals and many more besides would come to pass, building a better Man of Steel for the 80’s and beyond…

But..The Bridge…

SUPERMANIA celebrates Easter with by bringing you these fascinating, never-before published photos from an old family album.

Taken on what looks like a balmy day in Canada in 1982, April DeJong & family took a road trip to watch filming of a memorable sequence in Superman III and managed to grab the photos above.  April picks up the story from here –

“I called my dad, he remembers we were going on a family road trip (we lived in Edmonton) and he and my mom heard they were filming Superman south of Calgary.  He found out where they were shooting and we just tried, and found it, and asked if my brother could get a pic with him etc. My dad can’t remember all of the details, just that Mr. Reeve was very gracious to take a few moments during a break to let my brother chat with him and get a picture with him. My brother was over the moon..!”

For a sequence which many fans still hail as one of the best wire-work landings in the series, Christopher Reeve hangs about between takes (top pic) before hiding out in the prop trailer (second pic) and shooting the scene with the emergency services after failing to prevent the crashed truck from falling off the bridge into the lake.

All in a days work for a Superhero however as Reeve later kicks back in the shade for one last pic with April’s lucky brother, who obviously enjoyed his close encounter with the Man of Steel…

(Images © April DeJong 1982/2017)