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Topsy Turvy [VHS]


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Product Details

  • Actors: Jim Broadbent, Allan Corduner, Dexter Fletcher, Sukie Smith, Roger Heathcott
  • Directors: Mike Leigh
  • Writers: Mike Leigh
  • Producers: Georgina Lowe, Simon Channing Williams
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English, French, German, Italian, Japanese
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: USA
  • VHS Release Date: November 7, 2000
  • Run Time: 154 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (210 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305882010
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #182,010 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Noted for intimate character studies created in collaboration with his actors, director Mike Leigh makes a dramatic change of pace with this biography of comic opera composers W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. Gilbert (Jim Broadbent) is an easily angered but otherwise emotionally remote lyricist who works in collaboration with composer Sullivan (Alan Corduner), a genial and fun-loving sort who feels unsatisfied writing light operettas and longs to work with more serious material. While Sullivan is having a creative crisis, Gilbert is facing a failing marriage to Lucy (Lesley Manville), who loves her husband even if he can't return her affections, and must deal with his ailing father (Charles Simon). When they suffer their first failure, both men are depressed, and Sullivan announces that he's giving up operetta for good. However, a visit to an exhibit of Japanese art sparks an idea in Gilbert, and soon he and Sullivan are hard at work on what will become one of their greatest successes, The Mikado. Much of the film is devoted to the staging of this classic, with Shirley Henderson, Dorothy Atkinson, Martin Savage, Timothy Spall, and Kevin McKidd as members of the operetta's cast. Jim Broadbent won Best Actor at the 1999 Venice Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi R, 2 hr. 40 min. Drama, Musical & Performing Arts, Art House & International, Comedy Directed By: Mike Leigh Written By: Mike Leigh In Theaters: Dec 17, 1999 Limited

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

104 of 105 people found the following review helpful By bensmomma on November 8, 2002
Format: DVD
Topsy-Turvy is the story of the creation of the Gilbert & Sullivan operetta, "The Mikado." It contains not just the story of the musical's creation but many scenes from Mikado and other G&S musicals. Long-time "G&S" (Gilbert & Sullivan) fans probably found this movie a long time ago. I am one of them, so first I'll say that I found the performance of the G&S material in this movie absolutely superb. I've never seen a Mikado as genuinely funning and eccentric as Tim Sprall's, or a Yum-Yum as winsomely self-centered as Shirley Hendersen's Leonora Branham.
Viewers who find musicals simplistic or shallow or generally silly should make an exception in the case of Topsy-Turvy. It is none of those things. In true Mike Leigh fashion, the actors inhabit their characters like second skin. No one is simple or shallow. Nor does Leigh avoid the seamier side of London theatrical life. I particularly liked Jim Broadbent's bitterly comic and misanthropic Gilbert, Martin Savage as the opium-addicted George Grossmith (the 'patter baritone' who rips through Gilbert's rapidfire lyrics like a rap song), and Lucy Manville as Gilbert's long-suffering wife.
Finally, the film is visually beautiful and detailed; wonderful costumes, lighting, and sets that seem faultless in their historical detail.
One of the best, if not the best, bio-pic ever made.
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65 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 23, 2003
Format: DVD
This delightful retelling of the creation of the Gilbert and Sullivan masterpiece THE MIKADO is as improbable a product from the hands of Mike Leigh as a Hollywood shoot-'em-up would have been from Jane Campion. Leigh had made his reputation by crafting some amazingly intimate films about human relationships in films like the astonishing SECRETS AND LIES (which features in Brenda Blethyn one of the two or three greatest performances ever by an actress in any film). The idea of doing a historical recreation of Gilbert and Sullivan is not one that easily attaches itself to Leigh. Nonetheless, this film is in every sense masterful and entertaining.
With a director of the ability of Mike Leigh, it is no surprise that the film is superb as a production. Everything is superb about the film. The art direction and set design is extraordinary, and I can't imagine a historical film more compellingly done than this one. Moreover, the musical numbers are exquisitely done, and always convincing.
In the end, however, as superb as the direction and the design are, what drives this movie are the performers. This is a very fine ensemble cast, many of them Mike Leigh regulars, like the very fine Timothy Sprall, who winningly plays Richard Temple. Jim Broadbent has since the release of TOPSY-TURVY managed to establish himself as a superstar character actor through films like MOULIN ROUGE, NICHOLAS NICKLEBY, and IRIS (for which he won an Oscar). I always marvel at his range and his ability to sell any role. He is stellar here as the Stoic and emotionally conservative W. S. Gilbert.
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49 of 53 people found the following review helpful By RWM on April 17, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
It took me two viewings to understand what was going on in the first half of the film -- a dark and confusing period in the lives of the two artists. On a second viewing the whole thing came together for me.
I found the rendering of the historical period to be splendid --as convincing as Rossellini's "Louis XIV".
The actual creation and staging of the Mikado (in the second half of the film) is likely to delight anyone familiar with the works of G&S -- or anyone who has ever struggled to put together an effective theatrical production. The poignant illnesses and psychic suffering of the Savoy actors -- as well as the suffering of G&S -- set one up for goosebumps when they soared triumphantly into song on opening night.
The language and witty word play in many scenes were like the first stages of a multi-stage rocket that ultimately hurled Gilbert's wonderfully silly and witty libretto into artistic orbit. (Forgive me. I am an intellectual chap.)
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Joe Libby on May 16, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
If you don't like Gilbert and Sullivan, you should avoid TOPSY-TURVY; clocking in at about two hours and forty minutes, it would probably be a torturous experience. For everyone else, however, I give this movie my highest recommendation. TOPSY-TURVY concerns itself with a period during which Gilbert and Sullivan find themselves at a professional impasse. Their inability to agree on a suitable story for collaboration eventually leads to their most popular operetta, "The Mikado." Director Mike Leigh's object, however, is to tell the story behind the story; he lets us peek into the professional and personal lives of Sullivan, Gilbert, and the D'Oyly Carte Company. Jim Broadbent anchors the film with his tremendous performance as W.S. Gilbert; he is infuriating and arrogant, yet plagued with self doubt and even occasionally gentle. Alan Cordeneur does well as Arthur Sullivan, yet his performance is less involving and we don't get to know him that well; but perhaps that was the point. Leslie Manville is quite touching as Gilbert's long suffering wife, Kitty. The D'Oyly Carte performers are played with just the right combination of humanity and theatricality; in particular, Timothy Spall as Richard Temple (bewildered and hurt that his role as the Mikado might be whittled to almost nothing!) and Dorothy Atkinson, charming and alluring as Jessie Bond, are outstanding. There are generous musical excerpts from "The Mikado," "The Sorcerer," "Princess Ida," and Sullivan's non-Gilbert music. There is so much more worth praising in TOPSY-TURVY, but instead I'll just close by saying: DON'T MISS IT!
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