Freak Orlando (1981)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB

, 1981. , , . Screenplay by Ulrike Ottinger. Cinematography by Ulrike Ottinger. Produced by . Music by . Production Design by Ulrike Ottinger. Costume Design by . Film Editing by .

Painter, photographer and avant-garde filmmaker Ulrike Ottinger uses Virginia Woolf’s fantasy novel as a jumping off point for this exploration of politics and sexuality in early eighties Europe.

A series of episodes feature the same cast being refigured in different roles in each chapter, with portraying Orlando in various guises, traveling across cultures and eras and witnessing inhumanity, oppression and political greed in such settings as the Spanish Inquisition and Elizabethan England.

Unlike Sally Potter’s far more conventional (by comparison) adaptation of the same novel, however, Ottinger’s view of these periods is always filtered through a punk lens that features no end of expressive, colourful costumes and post-apocalyptic backgrounds upon which a mostly dialogue-free exploration of movement and sound is played (Ancient Greece, in which Orlando is a cyclops, takes place in a shopping mall in “Freak City”).

is on hand as a variety of characters and a number of sequences take cues from Tod Browning’s Freaks, but despite such an enticing description, the process of enduring this film is a difficult one.

For all that it’s set up as a collection of separate episodes, each one feels like the same time and place and aside from a general sense of the vague themes of capitalism and busting gender conventions, there’s nothing specific enough happening with the characters to engage the viewer in what is going on.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s