|Orlando (Tilda Swinton)|
The film begins with the introduction of a man named Orlando who works for Queen Elizabeth. In 1600, Orlando ceases to age at the request of Elizabeth who in exchange for a sizable piece of property requires that Orlando stay just as young as he is now. In 1610, Orlando falls for a Russian woman, but is spurned and remembers the treachery of women.
Next we meet Orlando in 1650 where poetry is the center of his existence. He writes some poetry and tries to get it evaluated and published, but it goes nowhere. In 1700, Orlando turns to politics and becomes an ambassador to somewhere in the Middle East. Things end badly, but this kicks off the metamorphosis for Orlando.
|Orlando As A Woman|
By 1750, Orlando is now a woman. The same person, just a different sex as she puts it. This transformation begins to separate her from the property left to her by Elizabeth. They tell her she must be officially dead by now and that being a woman is just as good as being dead in terms of ownership of property. She runs into a hedge maze and emerges in 1850 where she meets a man named Shelmerdine (Billy Zane) who provides Orlando with sex. In the end, Shelmerdine leaves because Orlando doesn’t want to be tied up with his need for adventure in the name of freedom and liberty. Then we are in the World War’s and Orlando is pregnant. Orlando survives and in the modern age she decides to stop being tied to the past and start living again after 400 years.
The character of Orlando reminded me of Robert A. Heinlein’s Lazarus Long, a man who also lived for a very long time. In the process, both gain a great amount of wisdom and insight about human existence. The obvious thing is that Orlando sees the world as both a man and a woman, but there is more. When you have lived that long, most of life boils off leaving the few things that matter, like love.
This is definitely worth seeing again and I highly recommend that you see it.