Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


A Study in Contrasts

[Screengrabs from Out of Africa.]

Visually, my favorite scenes from Out of Africa are the ones shot outdoors -- I love the light, the landscape and all those tall boots the characters are wearing. But the New Year's Eve scene is magical, too.

Throughout the film, Karen Blixen and Denys Finch Hatton (Meryl Streep and Robert Redford) are rarely seen rubbing shoulders with the other European colonialists. For New Year's, though, they join the crowd at the club in town. The tree is decorated simply (from what I can tell with red candles, a few white or silver snowflakes and ropes of silver).

The real visual contrast comes in with the paper decorations. Clear, bright, primary-colored paper balls, bells and garland stand out against the very grown-up neutrals and metallics of the party-goers' fancy dress. Truth be told, I don't know a lot about the history of crêpe paper but, as I understand it, party decorations made from the crinkled, textile-like material were widely marketed in the first quarter of the 20th century. So, the movie's whimsical paper embellishments seem period perfect. (In Atlanta we have the Williams Paper Museum at Georgia Tech. Hidden Treasures: Marbling from the Permanent Collection will be on view there January 27 through March 2011.)

As wonderfully retro as the crêpe paper and silly hats are, I think the blizzard of confetti and streamers falling all around Streep's and Redford's shoulders are most memorable.

Just a reminder: holiday wrapping paper and ribbon that's too crumpled to be reused on future packages can still be recycled as confetti!

 [Image ©Kate Headley. Posted with permission from the photographer, Kate, and the bride, Janet Blyberg.]

You might also like Geometry and Geography and The Villagers.


La Maison Fou said...

Great Post!

I loved that film. I wanted to be lost in Africa with R.R.


ArchitectDesign™ said...

love that movie.
So now that I'm seeing Janet's place setting again, I'm wondering if I had them do it the right way. So I had a napkin, utensils, numerous wine glasses, great place cards and folded cranes. I didn't want a fussy napkin fold (it didn't feel very J&J) -but now looking at this is feels rather contrived maybe? Worst of all the center napkin hides the menu. Would you have put the crane above the utensils maybe or at least the name card?

Style Court said...

Thanks Leslie!

Style Court said...

Stefan --

What I remember from the other pictures is that each crane was placed a little differently, so nothing felt contrived. And as you say, the unfussy napkin fold was perfect for J & J.

I guess everyone will have a different opinion but I thought you succeeded in arranging a lot of flat pieces in a relatively tight space. Again, keeping it J & J :)

Fay said...

Hi , yes that was a WONDEFUL film mmm think ill watch it again now ,it was fantasic on all levels
LOVE crepe paper too ive used yards of it this year to wrap gifts ,the colours thses days are so strong
and i love the feel of it .Italians oftern use it to put around hand ties as it make lovely curly edges !! thankyou fay x

Unknown said...

Style Court,

Great tip about tissue paper I run mine through the paper shedder and line baskets, cylinders for gifts of wine and children's gift bags with it. Love paper in all forms.

Merry Christmas!


Brilliant Asylum said...

So Pretty. Pre-war Christmas decor is so honest and pure.

Merry Christmas, Courtney!

Elisa said...

This makes me want to throw confetti everywhere too.

Style Court said...

Bette, Millie --

Merry Christmas!!


Style Court said...

Elisa, Fay --

Have fun with the paper :)


My Dog-Eared Pages said...

Your holiday posts have been my favorite 9pm read for all of December.
Merry Christmas! Best, Barbara

Style Court said...

Wow! Thanks Barbara. That's wonderful.

Merry, merry, merry Christmas!