Tilda Swinton made her first major impression in Sally Potter’s brilliant 1992 allegory Orlando, based on Virginia Woolf’s novel of the same name. Hurtling back and forth through history, Swinton’s title character — the eponymous Orlando — becomes a metaphor for mortality, ambition, and the inaccuracy of reportage, while the late Quentin Crisp offers a memorable portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I.
“This ravishing and witty spectacle invades the mind through eyes that are dazzled without ever being anesthetized. Throughout Ms. Potter’s Orlando, as in Woolf’s, there are a piercing kind of common sense and a joy that, because they are so rare these days in any medium, create their own kind of cinematic suspense and delightedly surprised laughter. Orlando could well become a classic of a very special kind, not mainstream perhaps, but a model for independent film makers who follow their own irrational muses, sometimes to unmourned obscurity, occasionally to glory.”