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Directed by Sally Potter • 1992 • United Kingdom
Starring Tilda Swinton, Billy Zane, Quentin Crisp
Based on Virginia Woolf’s 1928 classic “Orlando: A Biography,” Sally Potter’s sumptuous fantasy stars a sublime Tilda Swinton as the eponymous seventeenth-century nobleman who, commanded by Queen Elizabeth I (played by legendary raconteur Quentin Crisp) to never age, voyages through four hundred years of English history, first as a man, then as a woman. The spectacular sets, breathtaking costumes (which serve as the inspiration for this year’s Met Gala), and Swinton’s androgynous performance style give captivating expression to Woolf’s text, a playful, ahead-of-its-time exploration of gender roles and fluidity that remains as fresh and surprising today as it was in the 1920s.