Orlando | Chicago Reader


Sally Potter's well-appointed fashion show and pithy, symmetrical period spectacle (1993, 92 min.), loosely adapted from Virginia Woolf's fanciful novel, which follows the adventures of the eponymous protagonist (Tilda Swinton)—a man who eventually turns into a woman—from 1600 to the present. Compared with Potter's bold, beautiful, original, and witty (albeit unpopular and seldom seen) first feature, The Gold Diggers, this is safe, crowd-flattering stuff, the Driving Miss Daisy of art pictures—a film with practically no ideas at all, but lots of fancy trimmings (including Peter Greenaway's production designers and Derek Jarman's costume designer) and plenty of attitude. As a drag show, it's far from inspired (though Quentin Crisp's Queen Elizabeth I is a lot more convincing than Swinton's male Orlando), and as upscale entertainment it's about as radical as Woody Allen. Yet Potter's musical score, written in collaboration with David Motion, is lovely. With Billy Zane, Lothaire Bluteau, John Wood, Charlotte Valandrey, and Heathcote Williams.



  • Sally Potter


  • Tilda Swinton
  • Quentin Crisp
  • Jimmy Somerville
  • John Bott
  • Elaine Banham
  • Anna Farnworth
  • Sara Mair-Thomas
  • Anna Healy
  • Toby Stephens
  • Dudley Sutton


  • Sally Potter
  • Virginia Woolf


  • Christopher Sheppard

What others are saying

  • Add a review


    Select a star to rate.