Monday, October 25, 2010


Originally distributed in 1992, Sally Potter's film Orlando was re-released last summer. Ms. Potter adapted the screenplay from Virginia Woolf's 1928 novel Orlando: A Biography about an individual who changes genders halfway through her over four-hundred year long life. The movie is divided into seven sections: Death, Love, Poetry, Politics, Society, Sex, and Birth.

Excruciatingly slow and cryptic, Orlando is nonetheless a gorgeous work of art. Its enthralling music, mostly composed by Ms. Potter and David Motion, contributes to the film's dreamlike ambiance. Orlando's color palette is also extraordinary. Cinematographer Aleksei Rodionov shoots the Rococo period's pastel blues and pinks in muted light. Candles illuminate the Renaissance's bold outfits and elaborate rituals.

Tilda Swinton looks the part of the androgynous Orlando, but the movie's acting and writing are stilted and bizarre. Amongst the film's many unsubtle messages, its most powerful theme is that of identity. Though difficult to get through, Orlando has an entrancing originality.

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