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Derek Jarman Biography
Derek Jarman (January 31, 1942- February 19, 1994), 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 follwed 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 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 comparitively 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 (band) and other artists, where Jarman describes his life and vision.


The Tempest
Imagining October
The Angelic Conversation
The Last of England
War Requiem
The Garden
Edward II
Blue (1993 movie)

Sex Pistols Number One (1976) (features early live footage of the band)
Smiths promo video around 1986 - The Queen is Dead, Panic, There is a Light That Never Goes Out, Ask
Derek Jarman Resources
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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Derek Jarman.