The Mikado

  • 1987
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Comedy, Musical, Romance

John Michael Phillips' airy stage-to-film transfer of an English National Opera production of the Gilbert & Sullivan operetta takes playful liberties with the Original material: For connoisseurs, the result is heaven! In a mythical 1920s-era English seaside resort, Lord High Executioner Ko-Ko (Eric Idle) confides his plan to marry his young ward, Yum-Yum...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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John Michael Phillips' airy stage-to-film transfer of an English National Opera production of the Gilbert & Sullivan operetta takes playful liberties with the

Original material: For connoisseurs, the result is heaven!

In a mythical 1920s-era English seaside resort, Lord High Executioner Ko-Ko (Eric Idle) confides his plan to marry his young ward, Yum-Yum (Lesley Garrett), to the Grand Pooh-Bah (Richard Van Allan). Meanwhile, wandering minstrel Nanki-Poo (Bonaventura Bottone) wanders into this decorous holiday spot -- flirting is a capital offense – and promptly falls for Yum-Yum as well. Though Yum Yum is equally taken with Nanki-Poo, their decision to elope comes at an inopportune time. Dissatisfied with the leniency with which Ko-Ko has been imposing the death penalty, his boss, the Mikado (Richard Angas), decrees that someone must die -- after all, it’s been a year since Ko-Ko assumed office. In addition to courting Ko-Ko’s fiancee, Nanki-Poo has been hiding other secrets: He’s actually the Mikado’s son, and he fled his father’s royal jurisdiction to avoid marriage to an old hag (Felicity Palmer). Deprived of Yum-Yum, Nanki-Poo vows to kill himself. At this juncture, Ko-Ko is struck by a brainstorm: If Nanki-Poo agrees

to be beheaded in one month’s time, Ko-Ko will grant his temporary marriage to Yum-Yum. Having lost his heart, Nanki-Poo decides he won’t miss his head. But Nanki-Poo's elderly fiancée and father surely won’t sanction romantic decapitation. Is there a way the threat of capital punishment and the expectation of true love can co-exist?

As with Trevor Nunn’s version of OKLAHOMA (1999), British TV directors regularly prove that they can both capture the magic of a stage performance and subtly enhance it. Glorious singing, chic period costumes and witty choreography contribute to the silly perfection, and former Python Idle manages to fit into the ensemble without sacrificing his star presence.

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  • Released: 1987
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: John Michael Phillips' airy stage-to-film transfer of an English National Opera production of the Gilbert & Sullivan operetta takes playful liberties with the Original material: For connoisseurs, the result is heaven! In a mythical 1920s-era English s… (more)

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