Intertextuality in, and adaptation of Orlando.
A taste of the language Woolf uses. Potter explains in the distribution video that she let Orlando break the fourth wall, talking directly to the audience, that "the idea was ... a kind of release, and kind of flying out of the historical period, right into the present moment. It was to find an equivalent for Virginia Woolf's way of directly addressing the audience." The literary language has been replaced with a cinematic equivalent, achieving similar goals using different tecniques. Contemporary readers would probably recognise both the name and style of Woolf, so her author persona, feminist attitude and role as modernist writer of the Bloomsbury group would be important factors to how the book was interpreted and approached.
"Different though the sexes are, they intermix. In every human being a vacilliation from one sex to the other takes place, and often it is only the clothes that keep the male or female likeness, while underneath the sex is the very opposite of what it is above" (Orlando, (1990 edition) page 121) Quentin, known for his extravagant style, here appears as if an ultimate version of himself - his true self - Not in becoming a woman, something he never wanted, but to be able to play with traditional views on gender and their aesthetics, exposing both feminine and masculine sides that co-exist within an individual - In the same way it so clearly does in Orlando. Orlando himself are always partially androgynous, but trapped in a strict social system, he is always either or, and can first look feminine when physically being one. When incapable of fulfilling the demands of his masculine side, the feminine takes over, and although his mind remains the same, he is now presented with the restrictions the 'weaker sex' have.
Explains the themes of the story, and, particularly interesting, the focus on sexual ambiguity, and the idea of her lovers as androgynous counterparts. This again is reminiscent of Plato\'s \'\'The Origin of Love\'\'. It tells of how, in the beginning of time, humans were hemaphrodites, but as the gods became jealous, they were separated by Zeus, and ever since, in their loneliness, were always trying to get back to their other half. To again become one. This can be read as a comment on how women, in Woolf's society only ever attained rights and power through a man, never independently.
Tilda, like Quentin, brings a distinctive star persona, but at the time of the film at different stages of their careers. Orlando in many ways became Tilda's real breakthrough, while Quentin, having been prominent since the 40s, died in 1999. She had already played Mozart on stage, and in 1992 in the BBC production 'Man to Man. Another night of rubbish on the telly' a woman assuming her dead husband's identity. The experience of playing a man, becomes obvious, and Potter comments on the subtlety of her acting, and how they chose not to give her a beard, or other typically masculine traits, and instead rely on audience acceptance of the character through body language and behaviour.