Topsy-Turvey (1999)




Director:     Mike Leigh

Starring:     Allan Corduner (Sir Arthur Sullivan), Dexter Fletcher (Louis), Sukie Smith (Clothilde), Roger Heathcott (Banton), Wendy Nottingham (Helen Lenoir), Stefan Bednarczyk (Frank Cellier), Geoffrey Hutchings (Armourer), Timothy Spall (Richard Temple, The Mikado), Francis Lee (Butt), William Neenan (Cook), Adam Searle (Shrimp), Martin Savage (George Grossmith, Ko-Ko), Jim Broadbent (W. S. Gilbert), Lesley Manville (Lucy Gilbert), Kate Doherty (Mrs. Judd).

music makers Gilbert and Sullivan




A movie about the behind-the-scenes lives of Gilbert and Sullivan.  The movie picks up their lives when Sir Arthur Sullivan is in a deep slump and just does not want to write any more tunes with Gilbert, who Sullivan thinks just keeps repeating the same story: magic potion, magic elixir, magic this, magic that over and over.  

Out of this deep despair, Gilbert is talked into taking a break to visit an exhibition dealing with Japanese culture.  Serendipity in play, Gilbert is suddenly inspired to develop a story that became the famous "Mikado."  The pair went on to write five more operettas after the Mikado.  See what can happen when you take a break from your obsessive regular routine?

The movie is very clever, but pretty boring, unless you are in musical theatre and love the detailed portrayal of theatre production including the lives of the composer and lyricist, the lives of the actors, and the life of the production.  Interesting, the topsy-turvey world of Gilbert's productions are matched by the topsy-turvey personal world of Gilbert and Sullivan.  There are several scenes that really catch one's interest because the dialogue is quick and fast and clever, but there are just not enough of these in this very long movie of 160 minutes.  

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.





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