The Tale of Thomas Burberry, is an amazing short film produced in the form of a cinematic trailer, but, sadly, there is no movie forthcoming. It was released in November, but it was 160 years in the making, depicting key events in Thomas Burberry’s life and career. The period-piece was so well-written, directed and acted that you forget it’s actually just an elaborate ad for Burberry. It makes you long for the rest of the film.
Directed by Academy-award winning Asif Kapadia (Amy, Senna) and written by Academy-award nominee screenwriter Matt Charman (Bridge of Spies, Patriots Day), the 3 1/2-minute film stars Domhnall Gleason (The Revenant, Brooklyn, Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Sienna Miller (Layer Cake, Alfie), Dominic West (Showtime’s The Affair, Mona Lisa Smile, HBO’s The Wire) and Lily James (Downton Abbey, Cinderella). It focuses on pinnacle moments during Burberry’s life, a number of which were quite historical.
Burberry was born in 1835 in Surrey, England, and became a gentleman’s outfitter. In 1879, he invented gabardine, the tough, tightly-woven, waterproof fabric used to make overcoats, suits, trousers and uniforms. Gabardine helped launch Burberry Fashion House, one of the United Kingdom’s largest branded clothing businesses today. He understood the importance of promotion and publicity, making sure two of England’s most prominent Lords wore his weatherproof clothing. More importantly, he outfitted men who made history. Burberry’s gabardine was worn by polar explorers including Ronald Amundsen, the first man to reach the South Pole in 1911 and George Mallory on his ill-fated Mount Everest attempt in 1924.
The Tale of Thomas Burberry, played by Gleason, portrays several history-making moments including the invention of gabardine and Burberry’s outfitting Ernest Shackleton (West) and his entire crew in Shackleton’s most famous South Pole expedition aboard the Endurance. The ship foundered in ice packs and eventually had to be abandoned. However, Shackleton managed to get his entire crew rescued. The short film rightly suggests it was, in part, because the expedition was outfitted with proper weatherproof clothing.
The short film highlights other historical events, and has a romantic element to it as well. By the end of the 3 1/2-minutes, you may find yourself daring to ask, who won his heart? How did it end? There’s definitely a story worthy of a full-feature film. Judge for yourself.