Topsy-Turvy is also a movie written and directed by Mike Leigh
, about the world of Topsy-Turvy opera
on the 19th century
"Gilbert: Every theatrical performance is a contrivance by its very nature.
Sullivan: Yes, but this piece consists entirely of an artificial and implausible situation.
Gilbert: If you wish to write a Grand Opera about a prostitute, dying of consumption in a garret, I suggest you contact Mr Ibsen in Oslo. I am sure he will be able to furnish you with something suitably dull.
" - film script
With beautiful sets and careful production, the film is a visual orgy. After reviews less than flattering and audiences growing thin, famous composer Arthur Sullivan
and writer William Gilbert
s of Topsy-Turvy plays find themselves in a creative crisis
and an exhaustion of themes. Sullivan is played by Allan Corduner
and Gilbert is played by Jim Broadbent
The search for new elements and new hits drives Gilbert & Sullivan
to write a masterpiece about Japan
, "The Mikado
". We seen the conception
and all the intrigue behind the stage
, with the diva
s, the ego
battles and the costume
s. Sullivan wants to write *serious* music, but Gilbert is quite comfortable with routine plots. The theater owner (their employer) wants to keep the mass audiences entertained and thrilled, making them come back several times - and also wants Gilbert & Sullivan together.
The pair had been working in partnership for a decade and London loved them. To separate them would mean a serious loss of audience. After visiting a japanese fair
under the influence of his wife
, Gilbert conceives The Mikado. Sullivan joins him and they have a new play. The actors, accostumed to work for them and quite proud of it, are delightful. Egocentric
and delicate, they prove enough scenes of theater diplomacy
And then there's the music
. During rehearsal
s, we get to hear extracts from the new and old plays
, with the perfect choreography
as a side dish
. The plays and most of the characters are based on real-life Gilbert & Sullivan, the biggest hit in London during the 1880's.
This is a very unique movie in Mike Leigh's career, as his other works are usually very intimate
and visually simple. Most of his themes also show the problem of class struggle