Exploration on the ways in which gender becomes a fluid concept throughout Orlando and the aspects of the film that contribute to this.
Potter notes that the voiceover ought to have a female consciousness throughout the film, even while Orlando is physically male. This consciousness and the tone that is conveyed through the femininity of the voiceover, especially while Orlando is still male, creates a sensation of gender as a fluid concept. Orlando is male, but thinks as a female suggesting that the differences between the two genders are not drastic.
Potter, again, notes that the consciousness throughout the film ought to be female, so as to lessen the shock of Orlando's eventual transition. She is setting up a dynamic within Orlando that will make the transition feel natural as the lines between male and female will already be blurred. The focus ought not to be on the fact that Orlando wakes up female, but on the fact that there was femininity in him all along, making this a natural progression.
In order to more directly convey the idea that Orlando is female from the start, even when he is physically male, Tilda Swinton has been cast as the lead. The continuity that is created from the start of having the same actor play a role that straddles two genders, greatly adds to Potter's idea about Orlando's femininity, much more effectively than if a male had been cast in the role.
The idea of gender roles is further confronted by the decision to cast Quentin Crisp in the role of the Queen. The interactions between Orlando and the Queen early on in the film then take on an entirely new depth recognizing that each character is quite convincingly being played by an actor of the opposite sex. Again, the idea of gender is being portrayed as inconstant and unfixed, men are able to be women just as easily as women are able to be men, which sets the stage for Orlando's later transition.
Orlando's direct address here, confronting the audience with her new found femininity, demonstrates the extent to which the transition is natural. Orlando unashamedly faces the camera naked, displaying her feminine features, while at the same time noting that she is still the same person she has always been. This moment is the culminating moment for the idea of gender, as the film has been building towards this transition in subtle ways since the first scene.
After Orlando's transformation, subtleties in the background of scenes become increasingly apparent. Here, a now female Orlando, stands in front of a portrait of a woman, a shot that is very reminiscent of an earlier shot of Orlando, as a man, standing infront of a portrait of a man. The juxtaposition of these two scenes, of male and female Orlando, and the familiarity between the two stills allow us to determine the ways in which the protagonist really is the same throughout, gender notwithstanding.
The symmetry of this scene, with voiceover narration, compares interestingly to the opening scene of the film. In both, the voiceover has determined that Orlando is unequivocally male, or female, despite appearance, noting on both occasions the androgynous appearance of the character. In both scenes, however, once gender has been established, it is no longer the focal point of the narration, demonstrating that gender, while important, is not the summation of one's existence.