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Young nobleman Orlando is commanded by Queen Elizabeth I to stay forever young. Miraculously, he does just that. The film follows him as he moves through several centuries of British history, experiencing a variety of lives and relationships along the way, and even changing sex. Written by
The drinking scene in the desert with Orlando and the Khan is based on what actually occurred with the production crew. Sally Potter set up a banquet in the desert to woo a local Russian mayor into letting them use a local castle for some shoots. During the banquet, some Russian alcohol was served by the mayor, but the production crew were unable to swallow the drink straight. See more »
Exquistie and lush movie with an brilliant performance by Tilda Swinton
Orlando (Tilda Swinton) is a young noble man in the 15th century under Queen Elizabeth I (Quentin Crisp) reign. He's one of her last favorites and leaves him with great wealth. But he had to promise her to stay young. And impossible as it seems, he doesn't age and moves on from one century to the other, changing his sex and learning how unprivileged women are, as she looses her property as women are not allowed to own estate (And, as she's told by a lawyer, she's presumed to be dead).
Based on Virginia Woolfs novel, it captures very well her anger about the sexual discrimination of women in society as well as the sexual ambiguous and ironic tone of the novel. Other things, like Woolfs dislike and criticism of the Victorian society as well as her satire on classic biographies (the novel contains pictures, a register and of course a foreword) are lost. That's because though the book is rather thin, it tells a lot of stories and the elapse of time is much easier to describe in the book. That's one of the movies most obvious flaws: Director Sally Potter has great difficulties to show the ongoing time and the change of the centuries, especially at the end the transition is unsatisfactory.
Otherwise the movie is beautiful, the photography is exquisite, as are the costumes, many of the shots look like paintings, full of strange moods and meaning.
The film is full of sexual dubious characters and relations. Quentin Crisp, the man who inspired Sting to write "An Englishman in New York", plays a marvelous Queen, Charlotte Valandrey plays a young woman, who dresses like a man and Lothaire Bluteau as a Khan with whom Orlando has a friendship that has it's share of gay undertones.
I've read, that some critics objected, that Tilda Swinton is not believable as a man. I don't share their opinion, from the start I was fascinated by her androgynous appearance, by her grace and wit, she's perfectly cast and is simply brilliant.
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