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Recommend Mike Leigh at 75: On Wallpaper,Topsyturvydom and Empire (Email)

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"THE FURNITURE,"byDaniel Walber,is devoted to Mike Leigh this week for his 75th birthday.(Click on the images to see them in magnified detail.)

Topsy-Turvyis a subtle,even deceptive film.It moves like a light-hearted showbiz comedy,almost a VictorianWaiting for Guffman.Yet there's much more going on.Why is it so long,for example?What is Mike Leigh trying to express with so many characters?Why "The Mikado"?

These are questions that can be answered by paying close attention to its production design,the Oscar-nominated work of Eve Stewart and Helen Scott.This is a film about London at the peak of the British Empire,a metropolis gobbling up the riches and the bric-a-brac of the entire world.And the chosen entertainment of its people,eager to take in the sights and sounds of their imperial fantasies,were the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan.

The first to appear inTopsy-Turvyis "Princess Ida",a fantastical lampoon of Victorian mores that took place in a sort-of Pre-Raphaelite,Medieval court.

The version presented here involves a stage flanked by a traffic jam of trees,vine-covered Classical architecture and a great many helmets and snoods...


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