Pathway: Travelling Shots: Travel, Movement and Empire in Orlando by Sophie Mayer

Research for a paper on Orlando\'s relocation of Woolf\'s Constantinople to Khiva, exploring the subtexts of imperial history and the significance of travel for the film (and the production).

"endings are beginnings": the novel is circular, beginning and ending with "home." The film is also circular, but moves on from the "clinging to the past" that Potter notes. For Woolf, Home is the "Great House" (and England), which Orlando possesses despite her change of sex, a reversal of the gendered laws that deprived Vita Sackville-West of Knole. But Sackville-West was also a traveller, and travel writer, and the novel is full of constant motion (at least until Orlando becomes female). The film suggests the novel's subtext of change as constant.

A4 pages, handwritten, Paper, Pre-draft handwritten notes on key scenes

Perhaps the travel is the solution to the \"problem area\" of the book, in which Orlando is constrained by gender (and clothing) to her house?

5"x8" colour prints, Photographic paper, Photograph of black-and-silver costume for 1600: Love

Restrictive female clothing, and its role in Potter's play with gender, is discussed by Julianne Pidduck, Stella Bruzzi and Anne Ciecko -- who also show how the film deconstructs the term "costume drama," making a drama out of the history of costume as classed and gendered.

Coloured pencil, mounted on black card, Paper, Sketch of Library of Great House

But space is shown as gendered as well, relating not only to stasis and travel, but to the act of making art. The library is the only room in the house where we have ever seen Orlando alone; the butler, footmen, doctors and singers are able to enter Orlando%u2019s bedchamber while he sleeps. By defining reading and writing as private activities, the gentleman's library or study raised them to professions and conserved them for men (cf. Mark Wigley, 1992). The camera's intrusion (a rare push-in) underlines this sense of privacy.

Coloured pencil, mounted on black card, Paper, Sketch of bedroom

Bedrooms (and hallways) are central to Woolf's construction of "home" in the novel (which ends with Orlando buying new bedsheets for her beloved Great House). It's interesting that in the film we only see the bedroom twice: once when Orlando first falls asleep for seven days (after Sasha leaves him) and later just before Shelmerdine leaves her. It's more like a way-station, a pause -- almost a place out of the world -- than the solid foundation of identity that it is in the novel. There's never a scene of Orlando in his/her bedroom alone, claiming ownership of it OR being owned by it (and at the end, she doesn't buy sheets, she turns them in).

Video 8 PAL 90 video cassette, Video 8 video tape, Black and white mute video assist rushes, Scene 35, slate 448 take 1

Means of transport: Orlando enters Khiva on a palanquin, leaves it on a camel. Elsewhere in the film -- sleds and skates over the ice, Shelmerdine's horse, her motorbike at the end. Jan Morris notes in "Travels With Virginia Woolf" that Woolf loved her motorcar, and was fascinated by modes of travel (except ships, which bored her). I wonder if Orlando is the only British costume drama in which no character is ever seen travelling in a carriage?

Black and white A4 Text Document, Digital, Finished screenplay as published by Faber and Faber

In the film, Woolf's Constantinople (whose Asiatic half was the only place outside Europe that the novelist ever visited) becomes Khiva. Why? As Anna Pavord points out in her history of the flower, Uzbekistan is, in fact, famous for its valleys of wild tulips. The bulbs were brought to Europe from its native Turkey, smuggled in the bags of a Belgian diplomat in the sixteenth century.

Black and white A4 Text Document, Digital, Finished screenplay as published by Faber and Faber

In 1839, both Britain and Russia attempted to free Russian slaves held in the city. Russia intended to use the slaves as an excuse to attack and annex Khiva; when they failed, the British, who were caught up in the first Anglo-Afghan war, sent an envoy to the Khan, the hereditary ruler, in order to remove Russian pretext for an invasion. As King William "turn[s his] attention to the East," Orlando becomes a precursor of the resonantly-named Lieutenant Richmond Shakespear, the successful second envoy.

Colour, handwritten, Paper, Zurich draft, handwritten, scene 93-end, Nov 26-29 1988

Earliest draft shows that Potter adapted the Rustum scenes, in which Orlando travels through the Anatolian highlands with a band of gypsies. This is the most extensive glimpse of Orlando in motion in the novel, and it\'s a pretty idyllic experience -- until Orlando sees a vision playing across the hills (which Vlasoupolous notes is very much like cinema) of 'oak trees dotted here and there' and the gentle sighs and shivers of a summer's day in England that cause her to burst into a passion of tears's at her homesickness.

1 x colour slide in transparent plastic hanging sheet, Digital, Film Stills - Scene 46 - (Tilda Swinton) in the film

What remains of the Rustum journey: Orlando in a burqa. The image registers quite differently in 2008, but in 1993 (and perhaps still?) the burqa indicates not a trap, but freedom of movement compared to the stiff English clothing for both men and women.

Black and white photocopy , Paper, Notes on Khiva and Islam, handwritten

The logistics of filming in Khiva: notes on maps, strategic locations (reservoir), and local contacts have an interesting similarity to the notes made by British spies about the terrain and peoples between British India and the Russian border. I can't help but feel there's a Great Game connection here... a comment on empire that's also a comment on transnational filmmaking.

4"x6" colour photographs, Photographic paper, Photographs of Khiva location recces, exteriors

Islamic architecture: curves and vistas. Potter talks (in "Immortal Longing," interview with Walter Donohue in Sight & Sound) about the gliding camera in the meeting with the Khan deriving from studying the different geometries of the buildings she encountered in Khiva.

A4 pages, handwritten in pen, Paper, Notes on Khiva and Islam, handwritten

Notes about local customs on the same sheet as notes about production design for the desert scene -- interrelations? Julianne Pidduck raises the question of Orientalism, of Orlando living out a hammam fantasy, but these note suggest something more complex.

1 x colour slide in transparent plastic hanging sheet, Digital, Tilda Swinton, Lothaire Bluteau, Penny Eyles (Script Supervisor), Sally Potter and Crew on location for Scene 36

Realising the desert scenes: this set photograph gives a sense of space and light, as well as the importance of the location shooting to realising the mood of these scenes > the production itself travelled extensively

1 x colour slide in transparent plastic hanging sheet, Digital, Film Stills - Scene 36 - The Khan (Lothaire Bluteau) in the film

Realising the Khiva scene: notable for a) the recurrent twins (everyone in Khiva apart from the Khan is a twin -- another paper?) and b) its relation to Potter's experience of shooting in Khiva, where the deal was signed with a vodka-heavy picnic in the desert (footage is included in the documentary on the Orlando DVD.)

A4 computer paper with handwritten notes, Paper, Shooting schedule for Khiva

8 male twins! How is this detail connected to the travel and the circularity of ending/beginning?