January 2, 2017


Derek Jarman (1942-1994) b. London, England.

Derek Jarman

British film-maker with a vivid pictorial sense, but little enthusiasm for narrative. Jarman’s own homosexuality is central to his work, which, as well as anachronisms in period pieces, is full of full-frontal naked men, whose presence may or may not be superfluous to the main action. The male form, in fact, has dominated Jarman’s cinema and probably prevented it reaching a wider public. As a one-of-a-kind film-maker, however, he has earned his niche in history. Sex and sidelong glances are major players in Jarman’s films; but there are few smiles in his aggrieved and aggressive work, which emphasises style and content to the exclusion of entertainment. The most interesting and accessible of his films are those from the late 1980s, especially Caravaggio (1986), his first to encourage acting roles and narrative, The Last of England (1988), a lament for a country ravaged by some nameless disaster (AIDS?) and War Requiem (1989), a surrealistic, dialogue-free vision of World War II, using poetry and music to express emotions. A talented painter and costume designer, he died from AIDS.

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