Topsy-Turvy (1999)

Topsy-Turvy (1999)

A meticulous and whimsical account of the making of the influential comic opera The Mikado



United Kingdom, United States of America
English, French, German
Comedy, Drama, History, Music
Akemi Otani, Alison Steadman, Allan Corduner
160 min

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What it's about

After their production "Princess Ida" meets with less-than-stunning reviews, the relationship between Gilbert and Sullivan is strained to breaking. Their friends and associates attempt to get the two to work together again, which opens the way to "The Mikado," one of the duo's greatest successes.

The take

If you're a fan of musical theater of any kind, Topsy-Turvy pays tribute to that notoriously tricky art form with a stunning attention to detail and a dedication to telling its story without any unnecessary drama whatsoever. It's hard not to get swept up in the humor, entertainment, and simple joy found in the writing process and in rehearsals of entire scenes. Come for the Oscar-winning costumes and makeup, stay for the wonderfully old-timey musical numbers, the brilliantly grounded performance from Jim Broadbent, and the sense of satisfaction of just watching everything finally come together to thunderous applause.

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I love this movie. I saw it this summer and Mike Leigh was interviewed afterwards. Leigh is a genius but the interview was lousy. Part of what is interested is that Gilbert is portrayed as very controlling with regard to the opera whereas Leigh is famously a collaborator in his works.

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