Tilda Swinton stars as Virginia Woolf's gender-bending hero, the noble Orlando who is commanded by Queen Elizabeth to stay forever young. Orlando experiences four centuries of sexual politics, initially through the eyes of a man, until one day Orlando wakes as a woman, struggling to retain her property and status. 

You can't imagine a better film adaptation than this one.

Virginia Woolf wrote Orlando in 1928 and there have been several attempts to film it over the years, but you can't imagine a better film adaptation than this one British director Sally Potter has made.

It's a most difficult subject because the story takes place over 400 years and the eponymous Orlando played by the marvellous Tilda Swinton changes sex halfway through from man to woman. Orlando is first seen in 1600, when he becomes the favourite of Queen Elizabeth 1st, and there's some funny gender bending here, because the Queen is played by none other than Quentin Crisp. Later, Orlando travels to Russia, and then to the Middle East, and then in the mid-18th century becomes a woman and soon discovers how women really were treated as second class citizens.

Even when the movie moves to the present day, Orlando discovers that prejudices against women are deep-seated. Sally Potter handles this challenging but basically brilliant material with great skill, and the film despite a modest budget looks extremely opulent with glorious costumes and set designs, and location shooting in St. Petersburg and Uzbekistan. There's a fine use of music and songs, a welcome sense of humour, and impeccable performances from a fine cast, which also includes Billy Zane and Lothaire Bluteau. The result is a completely original and extremely entertaining film.

Margaret: I think it is so visually magnificent, that's to me the most exciting aspect of the film. Sometimes the points are labeled a little bit, but despite that you're swept along this amazing journey over 400 years. And Tilda Swinton is the most exquisite creature on screen, she's very good.


Watch 'Orlando'

Sunday 2 January, 6:50pm on SBS World Movies (Streaming after at SBS On Demand)
Monday 3 January, 2:20pm on SBS World Movies
Tuesday 4 January, 5:35am on SBS World Movies

UK, 1992
Genre: Drama
Language: English
Director: Sally Potter
Starring: Tilda Swinton, Billy Zane, Quentin Crisp

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1 hour 33 min
In Cinemas 01 September 1992,