Apr 152011

A few words in advance…

Orlando is not a movie one needs to ‚understand‘, but it’s a feast for the eyes (settings, costumes, actors) and ears (beautiful lyrics most of the time).
If you don’t ask yourself *why* Orlando is living for 400 years and the only thing changing during that time is his/her gender, then you’ll have lots of fun seeing the movie.

If you think you know this guy… then you’re probably right, that’s Jimmy Somerville, the singer of Bronski Beat in the ’80’s. He is singing a beautiful aria for Elizabeth, and reappears at the end of the movie as an angel singing an Aria for Orlando.

Some notes:
Queen Elizabeth is played by Quentin Crisp – a man, while Tilda Swinton as a woman at that point of time plays a man. However, the only thing that *really gives away that the Queen is a man are is the hair on her arms… 😉
The last five pictures show Elizabeth (and partially Orlando) in bed. You can perfectly see the wooden busk in the Queen’s stays, and also how a padded French farthingale can serve as a cushion 😉
Orlando’s chevroned suit of garnet velvet and golden embroideries with the matching short cloak is just adorable.

Short side note:
The thing the men are gazing at so interested (and which is shown in the last picture above) is obviously a woman carrying a fruit bowl who was frozen into the river Thames. I can’t help thinking she looks like Orlando.

The stamped leather suit with the pearl decorations is probably one of the most beautiful Elizabethan costumes I have ever seen.
Sasha’s ice skating costume seems way too short from the historical point of view.

Most interesting thing here is in the fourth picture in the background – that’s Queen Elizabeth’s ‚Ermine‘ portrait.
The poet, Nick Greene, is played by Heathcote Williams, who practically plays a parody on himself – and reappears at the end of the movie as Orlando’s modern day publisher.

I can’t quite remember ever to having seen a well made Mantua in a movie before!

The sash Orlando is wearing is very beautifully embroidered in gold, but I suspect that it’s a sari border, from the pattern it has. I desperately tried to screenshot it, but the best shot I could get is the one from the back, half in the dark.
I also think that Orlando being drunk in front ot the Khan is one of the best scenes in the movie 😉

…from now on, Orlando is female – for no particular reason, as it seems; and also obviously right away accepted by everyone who knows him / her.

I wonder if it’s an accident (of the costuming department) or intentional (because Orlando as a ’new woman‘ wouldn’t have fitted clothes right away) that the front hem of the Francaise is constantly being dragged over the floor and stepped on several times?

That aqua blue costume is just to die for. I think I can see a certain resemblance to Madame Pompadour’s famous teal gown. There are some historical accuracy problem with this gown here, though.

Note that Orlando, when getting to know Shelmerdine (Billy Zane), she is wearing 1850’s clothing; but when they part (which seems just a night later) she is wearing a natural form bustle of the ‚1880s. The latter reminds me a bit of Mina’s town dress.

Why did I screenshot those pictures above?
The first one shows Billy Zane (who played Cal Hockley in ‚Titanic‘) in a pose that bears a striking resemblance to the one his ‚Titanic‘-fiancé Rose (Kate Winslet) had when she was painted:

And the second picture just shows *almost* one of the DVD covers (depending on the country, there were several different ones)

Wrapping by Christo? I’m not sure…

Note the reappearing ‚Ermine‘ portrait at the right in the first picture.
The little girl – Orlando’s movie daughter – by the way, is played by Jessica Swinton, Tilda’s real life niece. Note that on an earlier version of this page, I had written that she’s Tilda Swinton’s daughter (because IMDB told me so 😉 ) but some clever readers who commented on this page (see below) corrected me 🙂

The second appearance of Jimmy Somerville; this time as an angel.

I’m jealous to no end. How can anyone look so beautiful and ageless?

  6 Responses to “Orlando (1992)”

Comments (6)
  1. Tilda was 32 in 1992 – year of Orlando premiere. She didn’t have kids then.

  2. Lovely photos taken from the DVD?
    This is one of my favourite films because of its hope and optimism and its fantastic imagery.
    I’m glad you shared it with us.
    BTW: the song that the Angel (Jimmy Sommerville) sings at the end of the film has a striking tonality that resembles Madonna’s Ray of Light. I believe Ray of Light came after the film and I believe Madonna used JS’s song as source material. What do you think?

  3. Jessica is her niece, according to this book (M. Humm, feminism and film).

  4. You stated that Orlando’s screen daughter (played by Jessica Swinton) is actually her real daughter, however her daughter’s name is in fact Honor, she has a twin brother called Xavier (their father is John Byrne) – are you sure about Jessica, as it just seems strange that she has a different name although her surname certainly suggests that she is indeed related to Tilda.

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