311 Great Directors: Derek Jarman

“Understand that sexuality is as wide as the sea. Understand that your morality is not law. Understand that we are you. Understand that if we decide to have sex whether safe, safer, or unsafe, it is our decision and you have no rights in our lovemaking.”

Why This Director?
: Edward II was delicious. More!

My Last Experience Was…: Just Edward II, but really, anyone who gives us Tilda has a guaranteed place.

What Did I Watch: The Last of England and Blue, two more from his late period.

Where Does He Fit: Wouldn’t you be angry if your government was intent on smothering your flame? When the economy is bad, the artistic works can reach higher heights of anger, yes, but it also becomes that much more difficult to be different, to be someone other than a hetero and cis white person…especially a male. Worse is when the majority just goes along accepting it, and that is why Jarman’s films still seem pretty hard to find nowadays, even if anyone who gave us Tilda Swinton in her earliest, arguably most alien form deserves our respect. (Sandy Powell does the costumes, too. Todd Haynes and Tilda collaboration is well overdue.) But it’s the film’s sped up, aggressive nature that makes the sights of a young man fucking a painting in this time of AIDS or the punks making their way through the apocalyptic ruin, fucking stormtroopers upon the Union Jack. The narrator, dry and vicious, is the only one presiding over this colorful madness, and he certainly does not seem to like what he sees. The Last of England is not fiction, it’s found footage from an alternate universe, especially with the rubble being the real thing, buildings obliterated due to lack of care from a terrible reign. (Also…where are the GIFs of Tilda and that dress and that stare right at us? Chilling.)


And now, we come to Blue, something unlike any other film. You can watch it and listen for the entire 74 minutes. You can background listen, like a podcast. You can tune in and out. You can ruin the perfect blue by minimizing, or subtitles. Whatever you do, just know that this begs to be seen on the big screen, in a room full of people having a common experience, relishing the last words of a man who will not go quietly…and the people who surround him? He bats away ghosts, bores us silly, faces the dying of the light and all other colors. He is a poet, and the words are his vessel, his images merely extra credit. It is a documentary without being one. It is so final, yet so infinite. He was truly one of the greats, and it is a damn tragedy that he still goes rather unrecognized. He lost half his sight, but his vision was never halved.


Most Valuable Asset: Just a whole lot of righteous punk anger over the 80s.
Most Excited For: Lots of stuff that looks great. Whatever has the most Tilda!

Coming Up Next: The definition of “make more movies!” in Julia Loktev.


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