“Topsy Turvy”–Gilbert and Sullivan and the making of “The Mikado”

“Topsy Turvy”

Gilbert and Sullivan and the Making of “The Mikado”

Amos Lassen

Criterion is bringing us “Topsy Turvy”, a look at the making of “The Mikado” by Gilbert and Sullivan. Directed and written by Mike Leigh, we feel his love for W.S. Gilbert (Jim Broadbent) and Arthur Sullivan (Allan Corduner) as they produce some wonderful operettas.”The Mikado” came into being after Gilbert went to an exhibit of Japanese customs at a library and Sullivan begins to write the music.

“The Mikado” is probably the duo’s most famous operetta and it certainly is the most fun. I did not see it until I had already graduated from college but it is still now, years later, my favorite DVD. Now we get a look at how it came into being and it is great fun. With “The Mikado” as the backdrop, we learn about the relationship of the two men and the movie moves between the operetta and the lives of the two. We get both glorious music and a wonderful plot. The entire cast turns in wonderful performances.

The movie is quite long but does not bore and I found myself completely enveloped by the film. The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous as are the make-up and costumes. We get a good look at the creative process as well as at the happy occasions and sad times of the two major characters. For those of you who think of Mike Leigh in the same breath that we think of “Secrets and Lies”, you are in for a wonderful surprise. It is a complete change of pace. I loved the banter between Gilbert and Sullivan and what they have to say about the art world and how they go about creating a show. I understand that the Criterion edition will have many new features including an audio commentary: Featuring director Mike Leigh, a featurette: Video conversation between Leigh and the film’s musical director, a short film: “A Sense of History” by Mike Leigh, interviews, a trailer and a booklet. Be on the lookout for this disc. Also you might have a change to answer the question if the two men were secretly sexually involved.


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