Having originally trained as a painter, Derek Jarman entered the film industry as production designer on Ken Russell’s The Devils, and the mysterious relationship between painting and cinema was among the many questions he would explore in his questing work as a filmmaker, which abounded in art historical references, and which ended with his Blue, a meditation of color as character released shortly before his death from AIDS-related complications. Alternately a prophet of doom and a poet of pleasure, Jarman made films that put him in conversation with immortal figures such as Shakespeare, Caravaggio, and Wittgenstein. These were conversations among equals.
A vibrant work of courage and clarity in which voices read a poetic text by Jarman—who was dying of AIDS, and would be gone within a year— over an unceasing, monochromatic blue frame.
A brazenly anachronistic and sensual imagining of the life of Renaissance renegade Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, and one of the finest British films of the 1980s.
Jarman’s feature debut revels in the male form while recounting the biblical story of the martyrdom by arrows of St. Sebastian, a tale of repressed desire turned to sadism.
A dolorous, moving portrait of a nation in its drab twilight, starring Tilda Swinton.
THE LAST OF ENGLAND
The tormented life of Viennese philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein is played—in a brilliantly counterintuitive decision—as a comedy in Jarman’s heady experimental biopic, starring Karl Johnson and Jarman favorite Tilda Swinton.
Jarman offers a typically idiosyncratic approach to Shakespeare, revivifying the Bard by rescuing him from fusty fidelity.
Jarman returned to Shakespeare with this painterly work inspired by his love poems—particularly, his 14 sonnets addressed to the unnamed young man scholars refer to as the Fair Youth, read by Judi Dench.
THE ANGELIC CONVERSATION
A posthumous collage made up of material Jarman selected before his death, offering glimpses into the life of gay London, as well as myriad moments of everyday enchantment and occult symbolism.