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…

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..!

L’Art de DC…

As a great editor once said – ‘Well if Paris is gonna go gablooey I want my best reporter right in the middle of it’ – and so SUPERMANIA brings you the lowdown on the gleaming new exhibition in France which opened to the public this week.

Quite out of nowhere and “In collaboration with DC Entertainment and with the participation of Warner Bros. Consumer Products, The Art Ludique Le Musee presents “The Art of DC – The Dawn of Super Heroes,” a unique world first exhibition that pays tribute to the story of DC and its iconic Super Heroes and Villains such as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the Joker at the origin of a true contemporary mythology. 

An original creation of the Art Ludique-Le Musée team, “The Art of DC – The Dawn of the Super Heroes”, unveils more than 250 original historical plates and more than 300 works of research from the cinema and many Costumes and genuine props from the films

We also present the authentic costumes created for the great DC movies such as the mythical costume worn by Christopher Reeve in Superman and the famous costume worn by Lynda Carter in Wonder Woman in the 1970’s…”

While this may be an all-new installation some of the artefacts shown may look familiar.  Indeed, the Superman costume (Top pic, on loan from WB archives) is the same one remounted from the 75th anniversary showcase at comic-con in 2013.

The Clark Kent ensemble, however (second pic) is more of a mystery and may be comprised of genuine suit pieces over a screenused Superman tunic completed with replacement glasses and hat.

The real finds here though are the miniature costumes for special effects flying models of Reeve & Kidder for the ‘Can you read my mind’ sequence in ‘Superman – The Movie’ (third pic).  These wonderful, intricate creations were never seen in the finished picture but remain a  testament to the ingenuity of the art dept. as the Superman costume, for example, is made form the same fabric as the full-size outfits.  Set in a glass case surrounded by hand-drawn storyboards, its as fine a collection of Super-movie history collected in one place you’re ever likely to see…

  • From  March 31, 2017 to September 10, 2017
  • Address : 34 Quai d’Austerlitz – 75013 Paris (metro station Gare d’Austerlitz, parking paying opposite)
  • Prices : 16.50 € (regular rate), 13.50 € (reduced rate), 11 € (children from 4 to 12 years or group +20)
  • Opening hours : Monday: 11:00 – 19:00, Wednesday: 11:00 – 19:00, Thursday: 11:00 – 22:00 – Nocturne, Friday: 11:00 – 19:00, Saturday: 8 pm, Sunday: 10 am – 8 pm

Stalmannen..!

Join SUPERMANIA as we spin the world backwards in time to 1979, where Superman reigned supreme at the box-office and ABBA ruled the airwaves.

And speaking of our Swedish friends, DC Comics in Europe at the time were being published by Semic Press as the adventures of Stalmannen – featuring reprints of ‘current’ stories mostly featuring art by Curt Swan and translated accordingly –

Free from the restrictions of DC in the US however, opportunities were provided for awesome photo covers (top pic) and contained unusual features like a page dedicated to snapshots of kids in their finest Super-Costumes.

For the February’79 release of Superman: The Movie in Sweden the publishers celebrated by holding a competition (or lottery) to attend the premiere (second pic) and in a later issue (third pic) the back cover featured an ad for some pretty unsavoury looking confectionery based on the film – the packaging for which making them somewhat of a scarce collectors item today…

Toes Pointed…

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With 50 years in the business, its inevitable that you will have seen Mr. Paul Weston in numerous genre classics and most likely not even realised.

With an impressive (most impressive) resume that boasts seminal pictures like ALIEN, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Return Of The Jedi, Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves and Bond films The Living Daylights, Octopussy and Moonraker to name but a few, it should come as no surprise Paul would also lend his talents and expertise to the big screen adventures of the Man of Steel.

“I worked on Superman’s one, two and three, the veteran stuntman, co-ordinator and second – unit Director revealed to SUPERMANIA this past weekend at MCM Comic-Con –  

“Chris Reeve was just lovely.  He came in and he was so young – just a kid – and he was tall and broad but he had no chest, it was flat.  I remember they made him up a padded suit, like the Batman ones now and he wouldn’t have it, he went straight to the gym.  After a while they brought in Dave Prowse and when he was ready he looked fantastic.

When we had him up in the air the first few times he was learning how to hold himself so he was streamlined.  We found that unless he pointed his toes it didn’t look right but it was hard to do, hold yourself like that.  We’d be down on the ground shouting up at him ‘POINT YOUR TOES CHRIS!’ and when he did he’d got it.  It became so much of a thing on set that when he eventually went home on Concorde, we had the pilot announce over the tannoy ‘Would a Mr. Christopher Reeve remember to keep his toes pointed in flight’.  He loved that.

“Everything you see in the Junkyard battle in Part III that isn’t Chris himself is me.  We worked really hard on that scene.  There were instances where we both had to be in the same shot and they super-imposed his face over mine.  In The Making Of Superman III you can see me on the swing being thrown into the car crusher.

I had Superman belt and a pair of boots – I kept them for years but eventually I just threw them away.  Same with ALIEN, I had a costume, pipes on the back and everything but that was thrown too.  Back then these things had no worth, its all different now.  I heard the ALIEN costume would’ve fetched literally thousands but there you go…” 

Obviously not one for hanging on to souvenirs, very few pictures of Paul on the Superman sets exist so he was kind enough to sign a still of his late friend Chris for SUPERMANIA (top pic) while the remainder of them are borrowed form Paul’s fantastic website – these rare pics show Paul on the Chemical Plant set (second from top), consulting with fellow Stuntman Roy Alon in Calgary for the fire hydrant crash and celebrating in the early days at Pinewood (bottom) with the news of Chris Reeve’s impending fatherhood.

Still very much active in the industry, Paul finds time to attend conventions and give talks on his fascinating career and is always happy to share stories with fans.  Should you wish to catch him he has an upcoming event in December at GATA where he is hosting an evening called ‘My Life In Stunts’ which is sure to be another Super-Occasion…