Topsy Turvy (1999)

This has been on my to see list for 10 years. Mike Leigh (director of one of my favorites - Secrets and Lies) delivers the epic tale of Gilbert and Sullivan's struggle for meaning towards the end of the 19th century.

Despite far-reaching fame and impressive riches, lyricist W.S. Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan are having difficulty putting together a new musical opera. Gilbert is not happy with the total whimsey that his material is treated with and Sullivan wants to be known as a more serious composer. Their stage collaborators all have their own struggles too and it is with strained effort that one of the their final original productions, The Mikado, makes the stage.

The film is long. Really slow and long. We are left sometimes just watching rehearsals and performances of G & S's musicals for 4-6 minutes. This really kills the pacing, but it also gives us a true feeling of what entertainment was like and what the writer/composer pair were struggling with.

Great acting. Great costumes. Great music.

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