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Topsy-Turvy (1999)

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Set in the 1880s, the story of how, during a creative dry spell, the partnership of the legendary musical/theatrical writers Gilbert and Sullivan almost dissolves, before they turn it all around and write the Mikado.

Director:

Mike Leigh

Writer:

Mike Leigh
Won 2 Oscars. Another 11 wins & 28 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Allan Corduner ... Arthur Sullivan
Dexter Fletcher ... Louis
Sukie Smith Sukie Smith ... Clothilde
Roger Heathcott Roger Heathcott ... Stage Doorkeeper
Wendy Nottingham Wendy Nottingham ... Helen Lenoir
Stefan Bednarczyk Stefan Bednarczyk ... Frank Cellier
Geoffrey Hutchings Geoffrey Hutchings ... Armourer
Timothy Spall ... Richard Temple
Francis Lee ... Butt
William Neenan ... Cook
Adam Searle Adam Searle ... Shrimp
Martin Savage Martin Savage ... George Grossmith
Jim Broadbent ... William Schwenck Gilbert
Lesley Manville ... Lucy Gilbert (Kitty)
Kate Doherty ... Mrs. Judd
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Storyline

After their production "Princess Ida" meets with less-than-stunning reviews, the relationship between Gilbert and Sullivan is strained to breaking. Their friends and associates attempt to get the two to work together again, which opens the way to "The Mikado," one of the duo's greatest successes. Written by Steve Fenwick <scf@w0x0f.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The egos. The battles. The words. The music. The women. The scandals. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for a scene of risque nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English | French | German | Italian | Japanese

Release Date:

11 February 2000 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Mike Leigh Untitled See more »

Filming Locations:

Hertfordshire, England, UK See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

GBP10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$31,387, 19 December 1999

Gross USA:

$6,208,548

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$6,208,548
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Similarly, in the scene where Leonora Braham and Jessie Bond sing a short excerpt in their dressing room (ending in "he was a little boy") during an interlude of "The Sorceror", the song is from the Gilbert & Sullivan opera "Patience" ("Long years ago..."), sung by the characters Patience and Angela, which Leonora Braham and Jessie Bond had performed in the initial 1880 Opera Comique production. See more »

Goofs

During the performance, Katisha's kimono is wrapped incorrectly. All Kimono wrap from the right side of the body to the left (i.e. the right side folds over the left), but her kimono wraps from left to right. Every other character has her/his kimono wrapped correctly. See more »

Quotes

Gilbert: What are you writing, sir?
Calligrapher: [speaks Japanese]
See more »

Connections

Featured in The South Bank Show: Mike Leigh (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

The Lost Chord
(1877)
Music by Arthur Sullivan
Lyrics by Adelaide Anne Procter
Performed by Allan Corduner, Matthew Mills and Eleanor David
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Interesting film-making, but too long for the subject matter
16 January 2000 | by Shiva-11See all my reviews

Creative genius is a fickle creature. It is rare (some might say impossible) to find artists working in concert who don't experience the aptly termed "creative differences". Indeed most collaborations, whether the result of clashing egos (Simon and Garfunkel), divergent visions (The Beatles), or plain old hatred (Guns 'N Roses) eventually self-destruct. Therein lies the dilemma for the operatic duo of Gilbert and Sullivan.

After nearly a decade of uninterrupted commercial successes their career has reached a crossroads: their latest effort is doing poorly at the box office due to a combination of lackluster reviews, and a vicious heat wave. Sullivan (Allan Corduner) exhausted and in ill health, repairs to the continent to rejuvenate himself and upon his return informs Gilbert (Jim Broadbent) that he has grown tired of the repetitive and unimaginative nature of their operas. Sullivan has decided to devote his remaining time, however long, to serious music.

After stewing about the revelation for several hours, Gilbert agrees to accompany his wife to a Japanese exposition in the hope that he will find some peace. Instead he experiences an epiphany: he will write a new opera set in Japan. The question is can he convince Sullivan to score it?

Director Mike Leigh (Secrets and Lies) is legendary for his attention to detail. He requires his actors not only learn their lines, but create a history for the character: their favorite foods, hygiene habits, and literary choices. Consequently he elicits unique performances from his cast. This film is no exception: Broadbent's stoic, sensible, and dignified Gilbert is simultaneously witty and clueless, while Martin Savage's performance as the pompous, manic, substance-abusing diva George Grossmith is eerily familiar (shades of Robert Downey Jr.). Leigh also goes to great efforts to create both a pleasing and authentic visual experience: from the sets, to the backdrops to the costumes, he does an excellent job of recreating the Victorian era. Unfortunately Leigh's microscopic view is also his undoing.

I enjoyed several aspects of this film, but there's just too much of it: with a runtime of 140+ minutes, Leigh spends so much time dwelling on the minutiae of the characters and setting that he forgets about the substance. Little if anything happens in the first hour and a half of the film (one of the reviewers sitting behind me fell asleep) and by the time the film finally hit it's stride I was checking my watch to see when it would be over.

If you are a Gilbert and Sullivan fan, you may enjoy this film. But mark my words: wear comfortable clothes and don't go for the big Coke unless you have a titanic bladder.


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