Pathway: Intertextuality in Orlando by Emily Spyt

Potter says that ‘ in order to keep faith with Virginia Woolf’s use of real time ending the novel, the film had to end when it was completed-1992.’ Potter does this successfully as not only does she take on this idea the ending is not formed until everything else is shot. Although the film ending and the novel endings are different Potter loyally attempts to ‘think myself in Virginia Woolf’s consciousness’ and create a appropriate ending that Woolf herself might have written if she had lived until 1992.

1 x colour slide in transparent plastic hanging sheet, Digital, Behind the Scenes Images - Tilda Swinton and Sally Potter on location for scene 53

Potter says that Swinton was the only actress that she felt was suitable for the role. Not only because she has played a male character before but her look of transparency and the way she acts as a man. There is no need for a ridiculous low voice or beard of some sort. Swinton’s acting carries it through e.g watching her stance as a man is fascinating as it’s not over the top but so effective. Her acting and lack of any over the top ‘male’ gestures enables you to fully accept Orlando as a man and a woman. Most of all its this that pushes you more into looking at Orlando as a person and not focusing too much on sudden physical change.

1 x colour slide in transparent plastic hanging sheet, Digital, Film Stills - Scene 4 - (Tilda Swinton) in the film

Possibly my favourite parts of the film are the looks that Orlando gives the camera/ audience. Potter says that she felt this was a great equivalent of Woolf’s way in the novel of directly addressing the reader. Potter at first was going to have Orlando make speeches to the camera yet the look was perfect as a release from the historical moment. The looks are fantastic in also keeping up the irony that runs through the film and they give the audience a moment of lightheartedness and relief?

Black and white A4 computer printed, Paper, Revised draft of screenplay

‘…do not fade, do not whither, do not grow old.’ This is just missed out on this page of the script. This one line is key to the theme of immortality in the film. Although Potter found it increasingly hard to write the script she notes that she just had to simplify the narrative. Yet in later stages she did sit down and treat the script within it’s own right and in doing so it meant she wasn’t harming the literature. Potter’s faithfulness to the book is apparent but for cinematic purposes this can only be to a certain extent.

1 x colour slide in transparent plastic hanging sheet, Digital, Film Stills - Scene 4 - 's Father (John Bott), Queen Elizabeth I (Quentin Crisp) and 's Mother (Elaine Banham) in the film

Potter highlights in her commentary of the film that each historical period is shown cinematically as taking an imaged essence of each period and blowing it up. This scene shown in the source has a restricted colour palette and effectively we are able to grasp the period beautifully.

Video file, Digital, Unedited video rushes of location scouting at Hatfield house -- Sally Potter with Alexei Rodionov operating camera

Although the maze sequence is not in the script Potter successfully creates a scene which captures the imagination yet simply is able to move the narrative on another 100 years. The maze was on location and Potter accurately describes it as a ‘labyrinth’ that she could use to move forward 100years in only 30 seconds. Yet this is a prime example of something that was not planned or drafted but stumbled upon and might just be one of the most memorable scenes of the film.

1x A4 Black card, 10x A4 Double side printed text and image document, Paper, Cannes Prospectus

The book and film both deal with that of immortality and the change from man to woman. The end of this storyboard shows the physical change of Orlando from male to female. The audience are able to experience this impossibility through Orlando. What I found fascinating though was that as Orlando highlights, ‘same person, no difference at all, just a different sex.’ Orlando does change sex and yes Swinton’s acting enables you to accept this transition but it does this so successfully that you do just follow Orlando as a ‘person.’

1 x colour slide in transparent plastic hanging sheet, Slides, Photographic Slides of Hatfield House location recces, interior and exterior

Queen Elizabeth 1 gives Orlando her property as well as requesting him never to go grow old. It could be highlighted that the property is highly important as it also evolves and changes along with Orlando through the historical periods until the end when she loses it signifying a change within herself.