These extensive costume and continuity notes were produced during the filming of My Beautiful Laundrette, a 1985 film written by Hanif Kureishi and directed by Stephen Frears.
Originally devised for television, Kureishi’s first screenplay was shot on a low budget in only six weeks. Set in Thatcher-era south London, the film is a ground-breaking exploration of race, class, politics and sexuality. It centres on Omar, a young British-Pakistani man who is given the opportunity to renovate his uncle’s laundrette, and Johnny, his boyhood friend who has fascist sympathies and who becomes Omar’s lover. The romantic relationship between these young men develops alongside the film’s other concerns ─ such as the British Asian struggle to maintain ethnic identity while assimilating into Western society, represented by Papa Hussain, an alcoholic, disillusioned socialist, and Uncle Nasser, a rich entrepreneur.
The film stars Saeed Jaffrey (Nasser), Roshan Seth (Papa Hussain), Daniel Day Lewis (Johnny) and Gordon Warnecke (Omar). My Beautiful Laundrette became a huge commercial and critical success after it was applauded by film critics at the Edinburgh Film Festival, leading to international distribution for cinema in 1986 and an Oscar nomination for Kureishi.
What are continuity notes?
When shooting a film, continuity notes are logged for every take to ensure continuity between screen direction, action, costume, props, and so on. Photographs, like the Polaroids shown here, support the work. Written in a messy hand, these notes convey the sense of an animated atmosphere on set.
For a film that is so concerned with identity and boundaries between characters, the continuity notes emphasise the role of costume as a signifier of status. Note the flash suit and aviator sunglasses worn by nouveau riche drug trafficker Salim, and the transformation of Omar from an unemployed lad in jeans and sweatshirt to the cleaned-up, suited businessman who is increasingly swayed by Thatcherite economic competiveness.
This folder was originally boxed with Add MS 89091/14/7 and Add MS 89097/4/9.