DIRECTOR: SALLY POTTER
COUNTRY: ENGLAND 1992
CINEMATOGRAPHY: ALEXEI PODIONOV
MUSIC: SALLY POTTER, DAVID MOTION, FRED FRITH, DAVID BEDFORD
WRITTEN BY: SALLY POTTER, based on Virginia Wolff's novel
CAST: Tilda Swinton (Orlando), Billy Zane (American), John Wood, Lothaire Bluteau, Charlotte Valanchey, Heathcote Williams, Quentin Crisp (Queen Elizabeth), Dudley Sutton, Lol Coxhill
SUPER FEATURES: This is a classic ANTI-FILM.
This may not be one of the best films ever done. And it may never go very far in its making. But it is a piece of work dedicated to writers and
artists that are considered a veritable underground to the currents that are well known.
Be it the novel by the writer Virginia Wolff, which is a rambling notion about love and its many moods, or be it the people involved in this
production, everyone involved in it, is a small artists in his/her own right.
From the excellent music through out, by some of the best underground musicians around, to the outstanding showcase of costumes (had an Oscar nomination), this film only suffers in that the story is not a conventional affair, that we have DEEMED, and now DEMAND, that every movie have. It is a series of vignettes, all relating to Orlando in his/her various lifetimes (from 1610 to the late 1800's). Let's just say that it is a slight study of how the Romantic part of our love came and went. And how it was destroyed by a vision, or a desire.
Orlando is, at best, a fictitious personage, embodied to live through various feelings, like rejection, love, until it comes across a sensible definition, and understanding of what love means. And the film, like the novel, doesn't care WHAT we think. It just moves to the next time period. The music changes, the costumes change, and the character adapts to the new time frame. And fails again.
In between there are the many notions that have ruined ten billion love affairs. The parentage, the romantic notions, the idealistic visions (the American specially), the politics, you name it, it's all here.
The sad thing is that this film can never be considered good, unless you are a literary minded person, who might just appreciate what SHOULD be considered, an experiment in the exercise of writing. And an experiment in the exercise of love as well. How does the same person/character behave in different times, which is a nice -- but impossible -- idea to work with. A modern sensibility with the romantic notions of the young American going to fight for "freedom" would be considered a "copout" nowadays. I much think that Virginia Wolff attempted to do this.
Sally Potter's film is faithful to the original writer in every sense. It does not give excuses. It presents what it feels it has to, without compromising the periodic needs. With Tilda Swinton playing the main character, with a face that is ready for love, but dispassionate all the same. A face that is stuck in the ideal, rather than the real.
Kudos should be given to the use of the music in this film. There are some extremely well thought out music pieces, and by people that have been around a long time in the underground of the music scene in England. And for once, their music gets a chance to be noticed, and appreciated. Sally Potter also did much of the music, thereby showing a multi talent. I just wonder if too much of her went into it, when she could have let others do it, and she might have concentrated on making a film that we all in the film viewing community could enjoy. As it is, it is a very nice film, but a real freak of the nature of film.
Thinking person's film. Should qualify as ANTI-FILM of the year.
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