An analysis of the relationship between the detailed and highly illustrative description within the original text and the shot choices and cinematography of the film adaptation. The approach of this pathway will be to seek connections between the various texts available to form a progressive train of thought, concluding with an assessment of the success of the translation of Woolf's work to the screen.
One of the opening shots, this location and almost exact shot is returned to at the close of the film. Orlando's link to the oak tree, and the grander overarching theme of nature prevalent in the novel and adaptation, are emphasized by the framing of this shot. The broad, dark, flat shape of the tree blocks the left quarter of the frame, creating a shadowy foreground that highlights Orlando's lounging figure against the verdant hues of the background.
Of the array of storyboarding images available, I was surprised to not find a panel detailing the opening sequence, as it seems to be a sequence which has kept a consistency between the visual language from the description within the text to the film. It establishes the unconventional nature of the film's narrative and the stylistic tone of visuals early on; Orlando directly speaks to the audience, breaking the fourth wall, and the shots are long, lingering, and feature a heavily contrasting colour palette.
However, the storyboard of this sequence shows a departure from the novel. Orlando's transformation from man to woman in Woolf's original text describes a visitation by a group of three angels, symbolic of feminine virtues; Purity, Chasity and Modesty. This masquerade-esque sequence gives the narrative an element of surreality that would not translate easily to film. Therefore, it seems as though the shot choices Potter has made in these storyboards simplify the sequence to allow an ethereal and fairytale quality to remain in the sequence, without adding a potentially problematic surreal tone, which would not be in keeping with the chosen aesthetic.
An interesting commentary by the director on a few choice scenes. Particularly interesting is the ice-skating scene, where Orlando is scorned with the line, "the treachery of men""the treachery of men", after which he then glances, surprised, at the camera. This glance could be foreshadowing of Orlando’s impending gender transformation, where Euphrosyne’s insult will no longer be applicable. This use of an ironic foreshadowing reinforces the light, yet powerful tone of the film; assessing gender issues through a non-gender specific protagonist. The use of a two shot where Orlando is the anchor in the right hand side of the frame reinforces the fleeting nature of his romantic encounters, but also possibly his fleeting masculinity. He is the focus of the shot, remaining stationary and dominant while the dynamic and passionate female character moves in and out of frame, removing her glove and throwing her engagement ring at him. Though she stands over him, his stoicism in the frame seems to keep him dominant. I particularly noticed the use of light in this frame, with the flaming torches in the background standing out along the tented walls.
Potter describes "a sort of complicity, in the camera". Does this imply the nature of the camera as more than a voyeur window into the world of Orlando? Perhaps prompting further audience involvement, encouraging the spectator to engage with Orlando's character? In fact, the word complicity seems to suggest a passivity, reflecting the non-directional and voyeuristic nature of Orlando herself. She is left ageless after the death of Queen Elizabeth, and floats through a multitude of locations and eras; Potter seems to angle the camera so as not to obstruct her journey.