Intertextuality in Orlando
In her introduction to the script of Orlando, Sally Potter says, 'to be slavish to the book would be a disservice to it.' She felt it was necessary to make changes to the story of Orlando for it to appeal to the present audience. This is significant for the adaptation process as both the novel and the film are two completely different mediums. I like that she takes the audience and the present into consideration whilst trying to remain faithful to the book. Orlando's affair with Shelmerdine in the film is an obvious difference and new meaning is created through the way it is presented , bringing the story into the present.
It is interesting to see how Potter picked out the key scenes in Orlando and how she portrays them in the film and attaches new meaning to their existence in the story. Potter is able to present these in a way which will appeal to the present audience. Through Orlando's relationship with Shelmerdine, we are able to see Orlando slowly let go of the past and move into the present as an independent woman in the 20th century. Sally Potter bringing in feminist ideas of the 20th century. This is just one way of looking at it.
Intertextual nature of Orlando: Knole House is significant as it was the home of Virginia Woolf's lover, Vita Sackville west. Orlando was inspired by Vita and her Sackville ancestors. Vita who loved the house very much was unable to inherit it being a woman- this is where the idea of gender restrictions comes in. Although Hatfield house is constantly shown throughout the centuries- this image is of historical relevance.
Hatfield House is returned to in all the centuries presented within the film (it changes slightly in appearance) It is passed down to Orlando and his family by Queen Elizabeth I. Intertextual significance: This was Queen Elizabeth's favourite residence where she had spent most of her childhood, Knole House is not shown once in the film.
There are a number of times in the film when Orlando addresses the audience, again this goes back to the idea of involving the audience in the story and bringing it into the present. Potter says, 'I wanted to convert Virginia Woolf's literary wit into a cinematic humour at which people could laugh out loud.' creating a collective experience. Potter uses a number of experimental devices. The film ends in present day (1992) when the film is completed, not entirely following the ending in the novel, by attempting to think in Virginia Woolf's conciousness she is able to bring the film to life. This is an example of some of the necessary changes which need to be made when adapting from another text.
This is how Sally Potter had visualised the Great Frost scene which was filmed in Russia. It is interesting to see how this painting by Christopher Hobbs is brought to life on screen. Another important part of the adaptation process, the transfer from written text to visual image. With the help of her background reading on Woolf's inspiration to use this in the novel was she able to visualise this particular image. Potter had said that, 'Orlando is a book which works primarily through imagery and therefore was eminently cinematic.' Her experimental approach to filmmaking and creativity must have aided her in imagining the scene to look like this.
Here Sally Potter talks about what attracted her most to the story of Orlando. The question of gender most importantly, and what it is like to be a man or a woman. She talks about Orlando as an anti-hero and an 'innocent' who is merely born into a time and class and fails to be what he is expected to be as a man and as a woman. She also talks about casting and why she specifically chose Tilda for the role of Orlando and Quentin Crisp for the role of Elizabeth I.