WCW: Uma Thurman

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Uma Thurman is an amazing woman and a fantastic actress to watch. She is versatile and takes incredible risks in her craft. She’s also been forced to take unnecessary risks, as she detailed in a gut-wrenchingly honest New York Times article earlier this year, where she tells how director Quentin Tarantino nearly got her seriously injured by making her do a car stunt on the set of Kill Bill. Uma Thurman also talks candidly about her experiences with producer Harvey Weinstein. She said:

“Personally, it has taken me 47 years to stop calling people who are mean to you ‘in love’ with you. It took a long time because I think that as little girls we are conditioned to believe that cruelty and love somehow have a connection and that is like the sort of era that we need to evolve out of.”

I’ve admired her films since first discovering them in the ’80s, and I especially enjoy her historical costume movies. Hearing her speak out against predators and power-abusers in the film industry makes me admire her all the more. She’ll always been one of my women-crushes.

 

Venus/Rose in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)

Uma Thurman, Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)

While yes, she played Venus mostly naked, the rest of her role was clothed in amazing costumes by Gabriella Pescucci.

 

Cécile de Volanges in Dangerous Liaisons (1988)

Dangerous Liaisons (1988)

The innocent who takes to her corruption. Costumes by James Acheson.

 

June Miller in Henry & June (1990)

Uma Thurman, Henry & June (1990)

NC-17 artsy sexy 1930s Parisian threesome. I adore the hell out of this movie and still have the DVD.

 

Maid Marian in Robin Hood (1991)

Uma Thurman, Robin Hood (1991)

I recognize the pictures, but I have no memory of seeing this.

 

Miss Beaumont in A Month by the Lake (1995)

Uma Thurman, A Month by the Lake (1995)

Rather twee 1930s.

 

Fantine in Les Misérables (1998)

Uma Thurman, Les Misérables (1998)

OK, so it’s the musical adaption nobody liked (at least the costumes were by Gabriella Pescucci).

 

Blanche in Sweet and Lowdown (1999)

Uma Thurman, Sweet and Lowdown (1999)

Drop-dead gorgeous 1930s with an edge.

 

Anne de Montausier in Vatel (2000)

Vatel (2000), Anne de Montausier

A lovely, if tragic 17th-c. romance with Thurman expressing the claustrophobia of court life.

Vatel (2000), Anne de Montausier

 

Charlotte Stant in The Golden Bowl (2000)

The Golden Bowl (2000)

Probably the weakest story of any historical Merchant-Ivory film, and Uma Thurman has the only juicy role.

Uma Thurman in "The Golden Bowl" (2000).

It does have a fabulous Victorian masquerade scene and excellent costumes throughout by John Bright.

 

Madeleine Forestier in Bel Ami (2012)

Uma Thurman, Bel Ami (2012)

Not a great story, per se, but it’s enjoyable to look at, and Thurman’s role is interesting.

 

What’s your favorite of Uma Thurman’s historical costume movies?

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About the author

Trystan L. Bass

Twitter Website

A self-described ElderGoth, Trystan has been haunting the internet since the early 1990s. Always passionate about costume, from everyday office wear to outrageous twisted historical creations, she has maintained some of the earliest online costuming-focused resources on the web. When she’s not dressing up in costumes, she can be found traveling the world with her sweetie and, occasionally, Kendra and Sarah. Her costuming and travel adventures are chronicled on her website, TrystanCraft. She also maintains a popular fashion blog, This Is CorpGoth, dedicated to her “office drag.”

29 Responses

  1. ladylavinia1932

    It took a long time because I think that as little girls we are conditioned to believe that cruelty and love somehow have a connection and that is like the sort of era that we need to evolve out of.”

    I was never conditioned to think like that as a child. I find it sad that she was.
    `

    Probably the weakest story of any historical Merchant-Ivory film, and Uma Thurman has the only juicy role.

    I’m not a big fan of “The Golden Bowl” (I blame Henry James). But I do believe Charlotte Stant was one of her best roles.

    Reply
  2. ChristyWines

    I was most definitely taught, by both my mom & teachers, that boys who were mean to me (name-calling, pulling hair, knocking me down, etc.) did it because they “liked” me. That made it very hard to justify leaving an abusive relationship as an adult, because he wouldn’t care enough to hit me or belittle me if he didn’t love me, right?
    I love Uma Thurman even more now.

    Reply
    • Trystan L. Bass

      Yeah, the “they tease you means they like you” is so typical & such BS! It’s awful that everyone tells that to girls, & it’s so embedded in the way women are raised & it’s a trope in fiction. Really glad Uma Thurman points out how wrong it is. And sorry about your abusive relationship, that sucks!

      Reply
    • Teresa

      Well, I was never “taught” any such thing. Cruelty and love being somehow connected…that’s just insane. And I certainly didn’t believe that the 13-year-old jerk who pulled a chair out from under me at Luther League was trying to flirt with me or impress me. Neither did our youth leader, who actually paled with anger. (If I’d been seriously hurt, she would have felt responsible.) I would also say that one of the problems I have with Elizabeth Peters’ novels is the pattern of characters having fierce arguments–shouting at each other, sometimes–as a prelude to some serious romance. That has never made sense to me. If a man is yelling at me, I don’t want any part of it.

      It’s very common to see statements that start “we as women are trained…” I call this bullshit. That is more than half the population you’re talking about. Some people have abusive parents, some people have incompetent bozos for teachers, and as LadyLavinia1932 has said, that is sad. That doesn’t mean that everyone does, or even that most people do.

      Reply
      • Janette

        No two families are the same, happy or otherwise and generalisations are always hit and miss. I find it surprising that anyone would be conditioned to think bullying is an expression of love. Also I was mostly bullied by other girls at school, never by boys and they certainly did not “love” me so that adds to my surprise at the statement.
        However I can imagine parents dismissing bullying as a sign of interest simply because they don’t know how else to deal with it. It is a kind of lazy, “stop bothering me about it” response, one that is all too common from both parents and teachers.

        Reply
      • Trystan L. Bass

        Social conditioning is a real thing. Just bec. you specifically managed to avoid it is very dismissive & incredibly privileged to say it doesn’t exist. Are you saying sexism & oppression doesn’t exist bec. you personally haven’t experienced it? Bec. that is bullshit.

        Esp. when you — Teresa — cited novels that reinforce the exact trope Uma Thurman was discussing. It’s common in fiction bec. it’s common in life.

        Reply
        • Sarah Faltesek

          Thank you Tristan, for not backing down on this. Women and girls are ABSOLUTELY socialized to dismiss rude or physically invasive behavior as ‘acceptable’, and are routinely shamed or scolded for getting angry about it, because ‘boys will be boys’.
          Women are taught to prioritize keeping the peace, or helping a man save face by not ‘making a scene’, over their own physical comfort or safety.
          Women are also conditioned to view controlling behavior as romantic.
          The saddest part is that these behaviors, and the misogynistic narratives which surround them, have become so normalized that many women are conditioned to the point that they don’t even realize it’s happening.
          Just because it didn’t happen to you, doesn’t mean it’s not real. And as women, we should be supporting each other, and believing each other.

          Reply
        • Janette

          I was certainly not saying it doesn’t exist or that she did not experience the kind of conditioning that she describes or that many women did not experience that. I am just saying it isn’t universal and that tendency to assume that everyone shares the same experiences gets me. I did not have a fortunate or privileged upbringing, far from it. I was just shocked that anyone would equate attraction with bullying, and saying that is not something i have experienced, not saying nobody else has either.

          Reply
          • Janette

            I will add that there are cultural differences, differences within cultures. I grew up with a pretty clear idea that all forms of bullying were unacceptable possibly helped by the fact that I was in a female dominated household as did my mother and mostly taught by female teachers who were educated post 60s and post WWIi immigration which impacted on gender attitudes in my country. so not saying it wasn’t as sexist culture, it was, just saying that for myself and other’s here our experience is different.

            Reply
            • Trystan L. Bass

              There’s a huge difference between saying “I didn’t experience this” & “I find it surprising that anyone would be conditioned to think this” which is what you did say. Your experience is anecdotal; what you said is an all-encompassing dismissal of other people’s experiences.

              That you continue to be “shocked” shows a rather limited perspective.

              Reply
              • Janette

                It surprised me yes because I was unaware that anyone would dismiss bullying as a sigh of affection. Does not mean I don’t believe that people do or question the truth of the assertion. (Perhaps I should have said “shocks, rather than surprises as obviously the later implies that I don’t believe it though that was not what I intended) Any dismissal of bullying in any form is shocking and I know it happens. I have encountered it just not in that form so if what I said came across as an all encompassing dismissal of other peoples experiences then I was saying the opposite of what I meant. I was trying to say people’s experiences do differ and mine might well be the exception to the rule but there are exceptions.
                Any dismissal of bullying on any grounds makes the person excusing it complicit and all too often people do dismiss or excuse bullying which causes lasting damage to the person being bullied. As I said to conflate bullying with love or admiration is beyond stupid. I did not question that it happens just because I have not encountered it because clearly it does.
                I apologise for continuing with this but I feel that my response has not been understood as my intention was only to say that experiences can or do differ, no doubt due to my poorly worded post and there is no excuse for that. I am supposed to be a writer after all.

                Reply
                • Trystan L. Bass

                  For a supposed writer, it’s your word choices that are really coming off patronizing of women who have different experiences than you. ‘Shocked,’ ;surprised,’ & now calling women ‘beyond stupid’ (whether Uma Thurman or the commenter formerly in an abusive relationship; these are merely 2 examples right here) — the more you try to make your intentions clear, the worse it becomes.

                  Reply
                  • Janette

                    I was most certainly not referring to either Uma or anyone on here as “beyond stupid” only those who perpetuate the concept that bullying should be acceptable. Yes, I use strong words but that is probably because I have seen bullying ignored at great personal cost. I say stupid things too and often as clearly evidenced here..I am not disagreeing with anything your or others have written here, I had not heard that line of argument used before and if anyone is stupid here it is me as my “surprise” reflects only my own lack of knowledge, my ignorance as it were. Sorry I posted. In future I will refrain from commenting on controversial subjects as clearly I am too inept in expressing my thoughts in short form..

                    Reply
    • Kate D

      Yes, no singing, just acting in the ’98. I saw it before I saw the musical live and I’m so glad I did it in that order, otherwise I would have been distracted from the movie by humming all the missing songs!

      Reply
    • Trystan L. Bass

      Wait, which was the movie version everyone complained about the singing in? (I hate Les Miz in general, so they’re all the same to me)

      Reply
      • Lady Hermina De Pagan

        The 1998 version of Les Miz is a straight dramatic adaption starring Liam Neeson, Uma Thurman, Claire Danes and Geoffrey Rush. It is a very close adaptation of the novel and ends at Javert’s suicide. Uma Thurman plays Fantine and it is pretty gritty and heart wrenching to see her shivering to death from both consumption and cold in her crib and throwing back the blanket to allow her landlord to have sex with her so she is not evicted and him cruelly refusing because she is not worth the poke.
        The one that people were complaining about the singing in was the is the 2012 adaptation of the Broadway musical. The issues with that production is that it also tried to stick closer to the book story not the musical story, which devotees of the Broadway show found off putting. In that production you have Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Sasha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter, and Eddie Redmayne as the main characters. The two production issues regarding the vocal production is that Tom Hopper had the song recorded on set live, as you would when you record a live Broadway production. The second is that you have 4 of the main characters who did not have the vocal training to stand up to the rest of the cast who were professionally trained. Russell Crowe was a singer in a heavy metal band in Australia and alone sounds fine but in a larger group he gets drowned out, Sasha and Helena are too soft spoken for the roles they have and Eddie Redmayne is vocally out of his range.

        Reply
  3. Natalie

    I haven’t seen any of these. Guess there are more movies to add to my watch list!

    Reply
  4. Barb Donaghey

    I feel she is vastly over rated. Very flat affect, no emotion, she is carried by her co-stars or, as in Dangerous Liaisons, her costumes.

    Reply
  5. Donnalee

    I really respect that she did that show on Broadway last year–it’s hard and not something that every movie or tv performer can do.

    Reply
  6. M.E. Lawrence

    “Liaisons.” Plus “Sweet and Lowdown,” which is also the last Woody Allen movie I really enjoyed–weird and unpredictable and hilarious. Thurman, as I recall, does a parody of one of those madcap heiresses who’s out for kicks. “Henry and June” wasn’t bad, either. I liked her accent in it.

    Reply
  7. Charity

    Love Dangerous Liasons… and I also love her Les Miserables. It was my introduction to the story and it’s still one of my favorite films.

    Reply

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