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Frame by Frame

Orlando (1992)

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.

As Vincent Canby noted upon the film’s release, in The New York Times,

“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.”

You can see the trailer here, or by clicking on the image above.

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About the Author

Wheeler Winston Dixon

Wheeler Winston Dixon, Ryan Professor of Film Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is an internationally recognized scholar and writer of film history, theory and criticism. He is the author of thirty books and more than 100 articles on film, and appears regularly in national media outlets discussing film and culture trends. Frame by Frame is a collection of his thoughts on a number of those topics. All comments by Dixon on this blog are his own opinions. To contact Prof. Dixon for an interview, reach him at or

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