DVD365.net
Topsy-Turvy (1999) artwork

Topsy-Turvy (1999)

10th April 2001

The film charts the history of Gilbert & Sullivan during one of their turbulent times - between the opening of one of their less well known operettas (Princess Ida) and the opening of (probably) their most famous (The Mikado).
Jim Broadbent, Allan Corduner, Timothy Spall, Lesley Manville, Ron Cook, Wendy Nottingham, Kevin McKidd, Shirley Henderson, Dorothy Atkinson, Martin Savage, Eleanor David
Drama, Music
1, 2
Unknown
Unknown

We begin in the theatre with Sullivan leaving his sick-bed to conduct the first night of 'Princess Ida'. The Victorian theatre-goers are all in their best evening dress: a tradition that is still practised by some even today. From here, we are taken home with both Gilbert and Sullivan to meet Gilbert's (long-suffering) wife, Kitty, and Sullivan's mistress, Mrs. Ronalds.

Princess Ida is not doing as well as expected, and for his health, Sullivan now takes off for the Continent. Here we see him sampling the delights of a French brothel, while Gilbert works on the next libretto. Gilbert is frustrated when Sulivan finally returns from his trip, as Sullivan does not care for his libretto. They quarrel and, although under contract to supply a new operetta, Gilbert offers to allow Sullivan to write a more 'serious' work with some other librettist. In the meantime, Gilbert's wife, Kitty, has seen a couple of Japanese ladies from an exhibition in London, and she persuades Gilbert to attend. This exhibition provides the means to break the deadlock with Sullivan, and 'The Mikado' is born.

We are now shown an insight into the writing and production of this work, including the chorus' revolt at the Mikado's only solo number being cut at the dress rehearsal. Needless to say, the song is reinstated. The finale of the film is rather poignant, showing the unhappy 'leading lady' having to put her personal troubles behind her to go on stage.

Looking at the film from a technical point of view, the picture is very clear, with imaginative use of camera angles throughout. The sound is crisp, with good use of the rear channels, primarily for giving ambience in the theatre settings, although this is not their only function.

The actors show quite considerable musical skill. Alan Corduner (Sullivan) is shown playing the piano with some skill, and conducting the orchestra too. All the main characters from the Opera Company do all of their own singing. There are some fabulous scenes from 'The Sorcerer' and 'The Mikado' where all the members of the chorus are excellent musicians in their own right. The ambience of the 'first night' theatre audiences is captured superbly in both the costumes (for which the film won one of its Oscars) and in the use of the surround channels to bring the theatre into your living-room.

The characters are played well, with Jim Broadbent portraying a very 'disagreeable' Gilbert, and Allan Corduner a very cosmopolitan Sullivan. The scene with him in the French brothel is quite bizarre! The other principal characters are excellently portrayed, in particular Wendy Nottingham as Helen Lenoir.

With the rather "bitty" extras it seems to me that, for once, the R2 buyers have the better disc here with an interesting director's commentary. Maybe not surprising, as it is a British film, with a particularly British subject. Die-hard Gilbert & Sullivan fans will lap up the whole two-and-a-half hour spectacle. Even those new to operetta will enjoy the unfolding drama. If you are at all interested in musical theatre and its history, I say this film is a 'must'.

  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spots
  • Photo Gallery
  • Cast and Crew Filmographies
  • About Gilbert and Sullivan
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Director's Commentary
The Rum Diary artwork

The Rum Diary

DVD
27/03/2013
American journalist Paul Kemp takes on a freelance job in Puerto Rico for a local newspaper during the 1960s and struggles to find a balance between island culture and the expatriates who live there.
King Kong artwork

King Kong

DVD
06/04/2006
Skins S7 artwork

Skins S7

DVDTV
10/09/2013
Moonlighting S1 & 2 artwork

Moonlighting S1 & 2

DVD
06/10/2008
Family Guy Presents Blue ... artwork
Ice Cold In Alex artwork

Ice Cold In Alex

BD
10/06/2011
Code 404 S2 artwork

Code 404 S2

DVDTV
06/09/2021
Stephen Graham and Daniel Mays return for a second hilarious series of Code 404, released on DVD and Digital on 11th October 2021, from Acorn Media (UK).
Space Jam artwork

Space Jam

DVDBDUHD
01/09/2021
The Brokenwood Mysteries S7 artwork

The Brokenwood Mysteries S7

DVDTVBoxset
15/09/2021
The Walking Dead artwork

The Walking Dead

DVDBDTVBoxset
16/09/2021
Reminiscence artwork

Reminiscence

DVDBDUHDDIGITAL
23/09/2021
Fast and Furious 9 artwork

Fast and Furious 9

DVDBDUHDDIGITAL
14/09/2021

Gomorrah S2

Review12/12/2018

Based the non-fiction investigative book by Roberto Saviano published in 2006, set in the suburbs of Naples, Gomorrah focuses on organised crime and the relationships of gangsters, drug dealers, and ordinary people.

Another Round

News26/08/2021

From director Thomas Vinterberg, Another Round, the intoxicating winner of the 2021 Academy Award® for Best International Feature Film, is released on DVD and Blu-ray 27th September 2021 from StudioCanal.

A Clockwork Orange

News01/09/2021

Stomping, whomping, stealing, singing, tap dancing, violating. Stanley Kubrick's controversial A Clockwork Orange is released on 4K UHD 4th October 2021 from Warner Home Video.
"It seems that envy is my sin."
Se7en (1995)

True Romance

BDUHD19/07/2021203

Snatch

UHD12/07/2021117

The Incredibles

UHD12/07/2021111

The Krays

BD12/07/202196

Innocent S2

DVDTV28/06/202164

Mare of Easttown

DVDBDTV13/09/202146

The Office Complete

BDTV05/07/202145

Jack Irish S3

DVDBDTV06/09/202144

Possessor

DVDBDNOTES08/02/202191

The Broken Hearts Gallery

DVDDIGITALNOTES18/01/202190

Black Widow

NOTES09/07/202160

The Virtuoso

DVDNOTES30/04/202137

Edward Scissorhands

DVD28/12/2000140

Gattaca

DVD01/01/2000113

They Live

UHD
10/08/2021

Paranormal Activity

LimitedBD
01/09/2021

Prince of Darkness

UHD
08/09/2021

Cars 3

Zavvi ExclusiveUHD
20/08/2021
Get a free daily news update. DVD365.net works with the Amazon Alexa flash briefing skill