THE WOMAN IN BLACK
The Look Of The Ghost
The 'less is more' mandate Watkins employed in the look of the film itself also
translated to his vision for the Woman in Black. "Her look needed to leave room
audience members' interpretation," says Watkins.
The approach was informed by the character beneath the veil - the woman who
the ghost, and what she experienced that made her so vengeful.
Costume designer Keith Madden (who also worked with Watkins previously on Eden
Lake) spent quite a bit of time researching mourning dresses to find the right
the Victorian time, if a woman lost someone close to her she'd look like a bride
She'd appear heavily veiled, dressed all in black. One of the key points we
early in the planning stages was that we didn't want the audience to see any
flesh. So all
of the vulnerable parts, like the wrists from glove to sleeve and the back of
were covered. And the fabric is very gutsy - giving her a strong silhouette. The
needed to be on the face, what little you could see of it."
In the final design, her face is camouflaged by a black veil which falls in such
a way that
it appears to form cracks in her skin. This effect was a happy accident of
experimentation. "It was all about playing around with fabric because at the
weren't sure just how much of her face we wanted to reveal. I masked it by
sheer layer of fabric very close to her skin. When we tied the ribbon under her
fabric fell like daggers or tears. Combined with the make-up, it worked very
For hair and make-up designer Jeremy Woodhead (Ninja Assassin, V for Vendetta),
working on a character as complex and dark as the Woman in Black was "great
"It's character work as opposed to vanity make-up," says Woodhead. "I was able
create a look in a process where make-up is actually important to define the
Woodhead explains the philosophy behind the look. "She's a ghost, but we didn't
to fall into the clichÃ©s that come with a spectral being. She's desiccated, her
withered and dried, eaten away over time, but it was important to not make her a
monster. She is somebody who was deeply wronged but she was once beautiful too."
Transforming Liz White into the character each day was not a quick process. The
application alone took over two hours.
White found the costume and make-up helped transform her emotionally into the
character. "As soon as the transformation was complete, I immediately felt
from everyone around me on set. It was incredibly hard to look people straight
eyes, and vice versa."
One of the ways the Woman's peculiar presence manifests in the film is in blink-andyou-
miss-it appearances early on, out of a window or through a doorway. Watkins shot
several alternate takes featuring the Woman in this fashion to allow for plenty
for experimentation in the edit.
"I wanted to make a refined, subtle ghost story," he explains. "I didn't want
that went 'boo'."
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