Historical accuracy in Nollywood costume designs: Approaches constraints and gains
In recent years, historical accuracy in costume design has attracted much attention based on the activities of many scholars, performing artists, and audiences. Accuracy of costumes in period films is an issue because modern productions of historical events can differ dramatically from the actual period in which the designer is striving to recreate. Essentially, the success or otherwise of a costume designer lies in her ability to accurately representing the historical setting and create convincing costumes and a visual, artistic, and audience satisfying aesthetics. But costumes as both signifiers of character and markers of history have hardly fulfilled these roles in Nigeria’s Nollywood due to limitations of documentation. Based on a critical analysis of three period films, this paper anchoring on Gofman's dramaturgy theory, investigates historical accuracy in costume designs of Nollywood and seeks to determine if the costumes captured in these movies are historically accurate to the Nigerian dress culture from 1960-1970. The findings reveal that designers of Nollywood in a bid to create the right period look are encumbered by numerous factors including limitations in documented history, research, budget, material artifice, professional historians and so on. Consequently, the costume designs of the selected films are characterized by inadequate use of lines, colour, scenic background and hair styles. The paper therefore suggests a strategic approach to historically informed films for it is hoped that historical accuracy in costume design is a useful goal that can be attained by giving room for individual creativity.