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Orlando (1992)

  • Globe Cinema 617 8 Avenue Southwest Calgary, AB, T2P 1H1 Canada (map)

“Well with your reputation Orlando, who else would have you?” the aristocrat says to Tilda Swinton at one point in Orlando (1992).  Based on Virginia Wolff’s semi-roman à clef novel, Orlando is a breezy, magical, visually resplendent tale of gender-bending social time travel. It established British director Sally Potter as a daring cinematic force to be reckoned with and gave Tilda Swinton a role she was born to play. Seen through the eyes of a protagonist who switches between genders as if it was “no difference at all,” it’s a film about love, death, poetry, sex, childhood, and old age, set through 400 years of European history. It’s a subversive spectacle that uses history as a stage to play, tweak, and experiment with ideas of identity (sexual and otherwise), social construct, and art. And in offering a sumptuous and humorous exploration of mores, past and present (while featuring a few literary celebrity cameos), it fully rejects the notion a period piece must be stuffy and formal. The modern cinema is all the better for it.

-Written by Scott Lang

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