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Derek Jarman (1942- 1994)
Derek Jarman (January 31, 1942- February 19, 1994) was a British film director, artist, and writer.
Jarman's first films were experimental super 8mm shorts, a form he never entirely abandoned, and later developed further (in his films Imagining October (1984), The Angelic Conversation (1985), The Last Of England (1987) and The Garden (1990)) as a parallel to his narrative work.
Jarman made his debut in "overground" narrative filmmaking with the groundbreaking Sebastiane (1976), arguably the first British film to feature positive images of gay sexuality, and the first (and to date, only) film entirely in Latin. He followed this with the film many regard as his first masterpiece, Jubilee (shot 1977, released 1978), in which Queen Elizabeth I of England is transported forward in time to a desolate and brutal wasteland ruled by her twentieth century namesake. Jubilee was arguably the first UK punk movie, and amongst its cast featured punk groups and figures such as Wayne County, Jordan and Adam and the Ants.
Jarman was a forthright and prominent gay rights activist.
After making the unconventional Shakespeare adaptation The Tempest in 1979 (a film praised by several Shakespeare scholars, but dismissed by some traditionalist critics), Jarman spent seven years making experimental super 8mm films and attempting to raise money for Caravaggio (he later claimed to have rewritten the script seventeen times during this period). Finally released in 1986, it attracted a comparatively wide audience (and is still, barring the cult hit Jubilee, probably his most widely-known work), partly due to the involvement, for the first time, of the British television company Channel 4 in funding and distribution. This marked the beginning of a new phase in Jarman's filmmaking career: from now on all his films would be part-funded by television companies, often receiving their most prominent exhibition in TV screenings.
The conclusion of Caravaggio also marked the beginning of a temporary abandonment of traditional narrative in Jarman's work. Frustrated by the formality of 35mm film production, and the institutional dependence and resultant prolonged inactivity associated with it (which had already cost him seven years with Caravaggio, as well as derailing several long-term projects), Jarman returned to and expanded the super 8mm-based form he had previously worked in on Imagining October and The Angelic Conversation.
The first film to result from this new semi-narrative phase, The Last of England tolled the death of a country, ravaged by Thatcher's conservatism. "Wrenchingly beautiful…the film is one of the few commanding works of personal cinema in the late 80's--a call to open our eyes to a world violated by greed and repression, to see what irrevocable damage has been wrought on city, countryside and soul, how our skies, our bodies, have turned poisonous," The Village Voice
During the making of The Garden, Jarman became seriously ill. Although he recovered sufficiently to complete the film, he never attempted anything on a comparable scale afterwards, returning to a more pared-down form for his concluding narrative films, Edward II (perhaps his most politically outspoken work, informed by his Queer activism) and the Brechtian biographical study Wittgenstein, a delicate tragicomedy.
The film Blue was his last testament as a film-maker. At the time when he made the film, he was blind and dying of AIDS related complications. Blue consists of a single shot of saturated blue colour filling the screen, as background to a soundtrack composed by Simon Fisher Turner featuring original music by Coil and other artists, where Jarman describes his life and vision. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derek_Jarman [Nov 2004]
Jubilee (1977) - Derek Jarman
Jubilee (1977) - Derek Jarman [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Avant-garde spirit and punk-rock attitude combine with iconoclastic results in Derek Jarman's defiantly uncommercial Jubilee. Filmed in 1977--the silver jubilee year of England's Queen Elizabeth II--this fascinating hodgepodge of political dissent and audiovisual experimentation now stands as a vibrant document of its time, both immediate and enduring in its bold rejection of all things conventional. (Compared to this, the quasi-punk Repo Man and angst-ridden Sid & Nancy seem positively tame.) Jarman's film deserved its mixed reviews; like the films of Andy Warhol, it's a slapdash affair, cobbled together by Jarman and his fringe-dwelling friends, ostensibly designed as a kaleidoscopic glimpse of London's future, infused with apocalyptic nihilism and populated by proto-punks (including Adam Ant and Rocky Horror's Little Nell) in an anarchic orgy of gay and straight sex, music, violence, and (in retrospect) astonishingly accurate pop-cultural prophesy. It's the pioneering, angry/funny work of a genuine artist, as essential to punk film as the Sex Pistols were to music in the dreadful days of disco. --Jeff Shannon
When Queen Elizabeth I asks her court alchemist to show her England in the future, she’s transported 400 years to a post-apocalyptic wasteland of roving girl gangs, an all-powerful media mogul, fascistic police, scattered filth, and twisted sex. With Jubilee, legendary British filmmaker Derek Jarman channeled political dissent and artistic daring into a revolutionary blend of history and fantasy, musical and cinematic experimentation, satire and anger, fashion and philosophy. With its uninhibited punk petulance and sloganeering, Jubilee, brings together many cultural and musical icons of the time, including Jordan, Toyah Willcox, Little Nell, Wayne County, Adam Ant, and Brian Eno (with his first original film score), to create a genuinely unique, unforgettable vision. Ahead of its time and often frighteningly accurate in its predictions, it is a fascinating historical document and a gorgeous work of film art.
Jubilee is a 1977 cult film directed by Derek Jarman and starring Jenny Runacre, Nell Campbell (Little Nell), Toyah Willcox, Adam Ant, Jordan (the Malcolm McLaren protege), and Hermine Demoriane.
In the film Queen Elizabeth I is transported forward in time by John Dee through the spirit guide Ariel to the shattered Britain ruled by Elizabeth II. The 1970s queen is dead, killed in an arbitrary mugging, and the historical queen moves through the social and physical decay of the city observing the activites of a group of sporadic nihilists called Amyl Nitrate, Bod, Chaos, Crabs, Mad and similar.
The film is clearly Jarman's but is heavily influenced by the 1970s punk ethic in its style. Shot in grainy colour the film is largely plotless, episodic, untidy, confrontational, often incoherent and noisily anti-establishment and anti-royalty - Buckingham Palace is a recording studio run by a man named Borgia Ginz. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jubilee_%28film%29 [Oct 2004]
Sebastiane (1976) - Paul Humfress, Derek Jarman
Sebastiane (1976) - Paul Humfress, Derek Jarman [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Sebastiane is the homoerotic film written and directed by Derek Jarman and Paul Humfress that portraits the martyrdom of the Catholic Saint Sebastian. It was the first film to be entirely recorded in Latin. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sebastiane [Nov 2004]
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