The Dressmaker – something for everyone


For anyone interested in the quirky, frocks, red lipstick and playing ‘spot the Aussie actor’, this Jocelyn Moorhouse film is perfect. The landscape reminds us of the harsh reality of our world and the limited thinking of some inhabitants.

Judy Davis is a standout performer who effectively compliments Kate Winslet as their characters revisit a shady past.

Rosalie Ham’s novel, The Dressmaker – an australian gothic novel of love, hate & haute couture was the inspiration for the film. It would be worthwhile reading this text with a senior class to identify and discuss typical gothic elements.


How well has Ham used these conventions?

  • Virginal maiden – young, beautiful, pure, innocent, kind, virtuous and sensitive. Usually starts out with a mysterious past and it is later revealed that she is the daughter of an aristocratic or noble family.
  • Older, foolish woman
  • Hero
  • Tyrant/villain
  • Bandits/ruffians
  • Clergy – always weak, usually evil
  • The setting – a character in itself. The plot is usually set in a castle, an abbey, a monastery, or some other, usually religious edifice, and it is acknowledged that this building has secrets of its own. Gloomy and frightening scenery evokes the atmosphere of horror and dread, but also portrays the deterioration of its world. The decaying, ruined scenery implies that at one time there was a thriving world.

Read more about Gothic fiction on wikipedia 

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