This is Sally Potter’s (The Party) highly acclaimed and visually stunning adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s novel, published originally in 1928. And who else should play a character who spans 400 years of age but Tilda Swinton! Swinton is Orlando, a young man who starts his journey in the Elizabeth era at the deathbed of Queen Elizabeth I (played by Quentin Crisp!). The dying queen promises him land and a castle, but only if he should never fade, wither, or grow old. And so he doesn’t, and centuries later travels to Constantinople, where he wakes up as a she, a woman who may now not claim any of her royal inheritance by sheer matter of gender. It’s not all headpieces and finery however, as Potter takes Woolf’s Orlando right into the androgynous, business-suited 1990s.
Why You Should See This Film
The film was Oscar nominated for Art Direction and Costume Design, and premiered at Venice Film Festival in the Main Competition. A unique book, a unique film, and a unique star. Orlando remains as transcendent and fresh as ever — an absolute visual feast and an early icon of New Queer Cinema that is thoroughly deserving of the big screen treatment.
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- Year: 1992
- Rating: PG
- Director: Sally Potter
- Cast: Tilda Swinton, Billy Zane
- Duration: 94 minutes
- Language: English