(out of 5)

Deliciously adapting Virginia Woolf’s groundbreaking fantasy novel, Sally Potter’s feature debut is a feast for all senses. , previously known mainly as Derek Jarman’s muse, deservedly broke into the international spotlight with her performance as the title character. Orlando is a sixteenth-century boy who spends his days lounging around and writing lovelorn poetry, becoming a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I and respecting her wish that he never grow old and wither away. He takes her instructions so close to heart that he literally stays the same age for four hundred years, and somewhere in the middle he turns into a woman. Swinton is brilliant and believable as both genders, a man who thinks his life is so difficult but is really just feckless, then a woman who has to make the best of things while dealing with the limitations that are put upon women’s lives in general. The costumes and sets are unbelievably plush (especially considering the tiny budget that Potter had to work with), and Woolf’s best prose is brought to the screen with exceptional zeal.

Adventure Pictures, Lenfilm Studio, Mikado Film, Rio, Sigma Film Productions, British Screen Productions

United Kingdom/Russia/France/Italy/The Netherlands, 1992

Directed by

Screenplay by Sally Potter, based on the novel by

Cinematography by

Produced by

Music by , Sally Potter

Production Design by ,

Costume Design by ,

Film Editing by

Academy Awards:  1993

Independent Spirit Awards 1993.  

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