Watched a GREAT fav film, Orlando, creation of Sally Potter, filmed entirely in Gorbechav’s Russia, a film that helped revitalize the Russian Film industry. First saw the initial screening at SF Library when Potter introduced this masterpiece years ago. You can find it on Netflix.
Re-watch number 4? It’s still marvelous. Taking notes on all of the producer’s notes – a revelation on how to make a very fine film indeed! Something I would dearly love to do – and hope to attempt yet again in some small way. Rapturous, the Jimmy is an Angel segment. The angel’s sing-song “I am coming, I am coming across the divide, I am coming, I am coming, I am here at last; at last, at last to be free of the past, to have a future that beckons me, we are joined, we are joined with a human face; I am in outer space I am here, I’m being born and I am dying.”
Building the set and sewing the costumes are just a tad of the production – how did they come to this ecstatic ending? Slowly, with lots of talent beginning with Virginia Woolf’s fine novel of the same name (read that in my 20’s).
Tilda Swinton (she was in the room, too!) has that perfect passionate, clear and changeable face that can be (barely) believed as both man and woman (she’s more woman) and I totally believe her as this fantasy hero/heroine who lives 400 years and undergoes all sorts of stupid cultural phenomena. As the favorite of a British Queen, he gets his face buried in a dressing gown (the Queen, Quentin Crisp, famed gay guy with high style) while being given a palatial estate forever (or until he becomes a she and has everything taken back).
That, of course, is the book’s and the film’s core (the BOOK IS MARVELOUS!) She is at one point “exactly the same person, only a woman” and preventing women from having the same rights as men is, well, wrong.
Sally Potter: “What Orlando says is that in giving up the past, her life was able to begin. I think the question of whether female emancipation can happen through a man, is exactly backwards, that each person’s emancipation is through themselves and the story of Orlando is somebody who is who is both a man and a woman and it is the story of the liberation of man from the constraints of masculinity as much as it is story of the liberation of a woman away from the constraints of femininity, and what is says is both of those identities are a trap and a prison and that inside that prison is a human being and that both men and women share that common humanity that infinitely more closely than they have differences.”
So there are vignettes, LOVE, SEX, POLITICS, POETRY, each succinct and delicious. “In a way, Orlanda is an anti-hero”. Many lines to memorize including: Orlando says “I must help this wounded man,” his Archduke says “That’s not a man; that’s the enemy.” Device of Tilda Swinton looking directly into the camera is a way to jump into the present. Heavy, romantic, dramatic, tragic with tongue in cheek. “So that people would be released through laughter into themselves.”
Russia was the place to shoot; the Russian winter. Russia during Peristroika under Gorbachev, everyone wanted to do business. In 1991, they traveled to Leningrad, renamed St. Petersburg. First East-West co-production with Russian cinema. This would be an inspiring place to work – where Eisenstein worked. Shot Orlando entirely in Russia. Found Moffana – a pre-revolutionary “folly” (mansion/castle) next to a lake that looks like a stately Elizabethan home.