Ulrike Ottinger was one of the most visually adventurous filmmakers of the German New Wave, and this little-seen lesbian pirate movie was her debut feature. A motley crew of women, among them a rollerskating Yvonne Rainer, join the tyrannical Madame X aboard her ship Orlando in this welcome and singular genre riff. Languorously paced and elaborately stylized—the costumes designed by Tabea Blumenschein are especially outlandish—the film is ultimately less a swashbuckler than a parable of freedom and failure; beneath its opulent surfaces lies a feminist conflict of the psyche. “The journey,” Ottinger has suggested, “is not a journey outward into adventure but a journey into the interior.”
Print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive. Image courtesy of Women Make Movies.