Director: Sally Potter
Screenwriters: Sally Potter, Virginia Wolf

Institute History

  • 1993 Sundance Film Festival


Sally Potter's adaptation of Virginia Woolf's novel, which examines changing sexual identities through the eyes of an ageless central character over the course of four hundred years, is an exceptionally invigorating experience. Superlatives are unavoidable as one describes the sumptuous cinematography and settings and the spectacular costumes and decor. But one need not be appreciative of cinematic aesthetics to be enchanted by this work, for the realm of this march through history is neither rarified nor esoteric. Orlando is instead a witty and intelligent exploration of gender roles that progresses from the court society of the Elizabethan period, through the intrigues of a central Asian ruler's domain, into and through Victorian London, and on to the present.

Riveting us to the screen throughout is an unforgettable performance by Tilda Swinton, whose statuesque screen presence exudes from both the male and later female personas she creates. Swinton, whose previous appearances in the United States have been almost exclusively in the challenging works of Derek Jarman (including last year's Edward II) is offhandedly comic and engagingly attractive in this film and deserves to be fully rewarded for her unique talent and qualities.

Potter's direction and screenplay are masterful; she has been especially artful in overcoming problems of adaptation. She sets a tone which is at times pointed, but never didactic. She is both revealing and stimulating about a subject which has rarely been so expressively depicted. Cinematically extravagant, with a cast that includes Lothaire Bluteau and Billy Zane, as well as Quentin Crisp, Orlando is a work which succeeds on as many levels as one can engage it.

Wednesday Jan 21 7:00 pm
Egyptian Theatre

Thursday Jan 28 9:30 am
Prospector Square Theatre

Friday Jan 29 8:00 pm
Sundance Screening Room


— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

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