Blu-Ray Rating: ***1/2

Reviewed by: Robert Munro

Read Robert Munro's film review of Orlando

The film is accompanied by a good slew of extras. The first of which, a documentary called Orlando Goes To Russia and filmed by the film’s producer Christopher Sheppard, shows the pre-production process in Russia and, briefly, Uzbekistan. Made for a paltry $2m, rather than the $10m it would have cost to film in England, the Orlando production team found filming in Russia a challenging yet rewarding prospect.

While the documentary may itself be a little dry, it is interesting to watch the film come together in terms of location scouting – with a 19th century Russian folly standing in for a 16th century English stately home - and the necessary diplomatic and financial hurdles negotiated to appease their Soviet hosts.

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After Russia comes Uzbekistan, the setting for Orlando’s failed diplomatic jaunt in the film. Still a Soviet outpost, the crew manage to find the ancient and immaculately preserved city of Khiva amidst the uniformity of communist housing blocks. The mayor of Khiva is understandably a little reluctant to allow this ancient city to be used as a film set, so the crew set about seducing him with a banquet. And a lot of vodka. This is how movies are made on a budget.

This first documentary is just over 30 minutes long, with Orlando in Uzbekistan, a video diary by Robert MacNaughton, following it. The quality isn’t great, and again it’s a little by-the-numbers, with brief interviews with cast and crew as well as behind-the-scenes shots – both in terms of the shooting itself, and the meetings with the relevant authorities in Uzbekistan.

There are also two segments from the Venice Film Festival; a press conference with the director and stars and an interview with Sally Potter. The interview is particularly interesting, in hearing Potter’s reasons for adapting such a well-known book, which had been thought un-adaptable. The process of adaptation remains fascinating to me, so to hear the director talk at length about the work involved and the choices that have to be made in choosing to leave certain things out, or accentuate some of Virginia Woolf’s prose. It also becomes clear just how passionate Potter is about the text and its underlying themes and concerns.

There are also selected scene commentaries with Sally Potter, in which she discusses the importance of the film's composition and look, and how her past in choreography helped her subconsciously craft the look of the film. Finally there's a very short (around 8 minutes) documentary, Jimmy was an Angel, which looks at Jimmy Somerville's portrayal of an angel in the film and the work the team did in creating the effect.

With the film released on Bluray for the first time, a word about the quality is necessary. With it is only just over 20 years old, the quality of the image is perhaps slightly disappointing. Several scenes, particularly troublesome night shots, have a large amount of noise in the form of grain across the screen. With ever more detailed Bluray restorations of classic films becoming available, the quality here feels a little below what might have been expected.

Reviewed on: 06 Aug 2012
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Young nobleman Orlando is commanded by Queen Elizabeth I to stay forever young. Miraculously, he does just that...
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Product Code: ART 026 BD

Region: 0

Ratio: 1.85:1, AVC/MPEG-4, 1080p/24

Sound: LPCM 2.0 Stereo

Extras: Orlando Goes To Russia, Orlando in Uzbekistan, Jimmy was an Angel, Venice Film Festival press conference and interview, selected scene commentary

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