Pathway: Orlando the novel to Orlando the film: Intertextuality and gender by Briony Stas

Thoughts on how Sally Potter used the visual medium of film to translate Virginia Wolf's literary exploration of gender, which is given to us largely through Orlando's internalised thought, into the screen.

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

Video file, Digital, Selected Scene Commentary by Sally Potter

Page 3 of general notes on Orlando, black printed text on A4 paper

This begins to address the fact that much of Orlando the novel is concerned with his/her inner thoughts and reflections on what is going on, rather than any visual actions which could be put across clearly on screen. Adding the voice over essentially departs from the filmic medium, but allows Potter to capture some of the self-reflexivity of the novel and the thoughts on the process of writing itself, although it does not have the same affect because we are watching rather than reading, so we are less aware of ourselves as audience than we are when reading the book.

1 x colour slide in transparent plastic hanging sheet, Digital, Film Stills - Scene 3 - Queen Elizabeth I (Quentin Crisp) in the film

Crisp's iconic status affects how we view the film in terms of gender not only because he is a man in a woman's role, but because of the intertextual nature of his star persona. He is synonymous with breaking gender boundaries and his very presence in the film, regardless of his performance, brings our attention to the fluidity of gender in the story.

Video file, Digital, Screen Test - Quentin Crisp reading Elizabeth I

Quentin Crisp - 1970s gay icon - cast as Queen Elizabeth.

Continuation of Potter's pay with gender roles within the casting, which stems from Wolf's original exploration of gender in the book. The casting process, specific to the filmic medium, demands that a very clear and defined image of the character is put into the mind of the audience, and so casting a man for the female role is a device which was unavailable to Wolf while she wrote the book, and so in a strict sense is a departure from the original text, but the gender-bending spirit of the novel is very much shown and developed in the decision.

Postcard showing portrait of Queen Elizabeth

Traditional view of Queen Elizabeth very much incorporated into the intertextual character we see on screen, but this image, which we are very comfortable with is distorted to serve the gender-play of the novel and film.

1 x A4 black photograph album; 34 vellum pages; 24 x colour prints, Mixed, Presentation book containing Sally Potter's notes on the film and colour photographs of Tilda Swinton at Hatfield House

Similarly to Crisp's casting, the very fact that we know Swinton is a woman when the film begins makes gender THE focal point of the movie from the start, as even if we have no prior knowledge of the book, it is unlikely the audience would be unaware of Swinton - at least to the point of knowing her gender.

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