A while back, we got our first look at Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise the dancing clown in the 2017 remake (re-adaptation?) of Stephen King’s It. The first image was a close up of Pennywise’s face, and now the camera has panned out to give us a full look and it’s… well it’s something.
Gone are the typical floppy shoes and puffy pants that one remembers of not only Pennywise, but really most modern clowns. Instead, there is a vintage looking outfit, mixing styles from the Medieval, Renaissance, Elizabethan, and Victorian eras. Costume designer Janie Bryant told Entertainment Weekly that the costume “definitely incorporates all these otherworldly past lives, if you will.”
The new Pennywise lacks the brightness and whimsy of his predecessor, played by Tim Curry, with an outfit that is predominantly gray, with only accents of color. “The pompoms are orange, and then with the trim around the cuffs and the ankles, it’s basically a ball fringe that’s a combination of orange, red, and cinnamon,” Bryant said. “It’s almost like Pennywise fades into his environment. But there are accents to pull out the definition of the gray silk.” That matches King’s description in the book in its silken construct, but not much beyond that. The novel describes the clown as wearing a “baggy silk suit with great big orange buttons,” and an electric blue tie. The EW article describes his gloves as being “tight and seamless,” making his hands look like porcelain. This of course is in direct contrast to the literary version of Pennywise as having “big white gloves, like the kind Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck always wore.”
The new clown’s hair is much more sinister than the “funny tufts of red hair on either side of his bald head” that King described. It’s still bright red with a giant forehead, but instead of a puffy afro, it’s more of a spiked up coif. It somewhat resembles flames, although whether that’s intentional or not isn’t mentioned.
I understand that Pennywise is an immortal, ageless being who has always been and I understand the combination of eras in this new costume. However, it seems to steer pretty far from King’s original description, which was one of a much more fun looking, traditional clown. He was described in the book as “a cross between Bozo and Clarabell.”
“It” can appear as anything and used a clown to appeal to children. This new clown is much more evil. Everyone I’ve shown the photo to has had the same response, and that’s that he looks terrifying. That sounds like the right idea for a horror movie, right? You want to scare people. Except that the whole point of Pennywise the clown was to try and attract children and this clown would most likely have the opposite effect.
Also, seemingly being forgotten by Muschietti, Bryant, and the rest of the gang, is that “Its” various forms were forged directly in the minds of the children “It” was trying to appeal to. Be it a werewolf, a mummy, Paul Bunyan, or even George Denbrough, all were created in the minds of children and extracted by “It” to illicit trust or fear, depending on “Its” current goal. With that knowledge, one has to wonder, what child in the 1980s (or 1950s as it was in the book) would fabricate an image of a Victorian or Renaissance-era clown over that of Ronald McDonald or Bozo?
What do you guys think? Do you like the new look or do you prefer the classic costume?