In this Derek Jarman version of Christopher Marlowe's Elisabethan drama, in modern costumes and settings, Plantagenet king Edward II hands the power-craving nobility the perfect excuse by ... See full summary »
Frank Ripploh is a bit of a rascal: he's a bearded and shaggy-haired teacher, and he's gay with a very active sex life and an interest in making films. He keeps his personal life and ... See full summary »
A nearly wordless visual narrative intercuts two main stories and a couple of minor ones. A woman, perhaps the Madonna, brings forth her baby to a crowd of intrusive paparazzi; she tries to... See full summary »
Against a plain, unchanging blue screen, a densely interwoven soundtrack of voices, sound effects and music attempt to convey a portrait of Derek Jarman's experiences with AIDS, both ... See full summary »
A dramatization, in modern theatrical style, of the life and thought of the Viennese-born, Cambridge-educated philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), whose principal interest was the ... See full summary »
Three song clips by The Smiths ('The Queen is Dead', 'There is a Light that Never Goes Out' and 'Panic'), all directed with an artistic and conceptual vision by the late Derek Jarman. The ... See full summary »
300 A.D. : the Roman Sebastianus is exiled to a remote outpost populated exclusively by men. Weakened by their desires, these men turn to homosexual activities to satisfy their needs. However, Sebastianus becomes the target of lust for a homosexual centurion, but he rejects the man's advances. Written by
Jonathon Dabell <J.D.@pixie.ntu.ac.uk>
Not being overly familiar with Bible stories or Christian history (and the fact that the opening rolling titles are impossible to read), the factuality of this film will escape me. But Jarman is a visual artist, and his film has more in common with the many paintings of Sebastian than it does with factual storytelling. Jarman's ornate decor can sometimes feel dull and bland -- his films can seem lifeless, bogged down by the set decoration. This calls to mind "Velvet Goldmine," a complex film I didn't care for, even though I love Todd Haynes; I want to like Jarman -- I love his books -- and this is the first film of his that I've been actively enthusiastic about. It has much more to do with sex than history; and it's apolitical and political at the same time.
Consider the film's approach to homosexuality. No one is defined as being a homosexual, so that at first seems like a de-politicization of sex -- all there are are acts, and acts are not political. But at the same time, it's acts that are disdained and made illegal, and without the "political" approach to defining (and thereby defending) people as homosexuals, it leaves the acts open to censorship and condemnation -- politicization. As a film itself, though, it is not pedantic or accusatory -- in fact, Sebastian is killed, it seems, because of the lust of Severus, who he refuses. Like the Christian God who Sebastian loves and sees as more beautiful than Adonis, Severus wants Sebastian. But it isn't just condemning lust, either -- Anthony and Adrian are openly lovers, and the abundance of male nudity, and the eroticism of it by Jarman, could hardly be called prudish. In fact, there is a scene at night of the men grabbing each other, their dark-lit bodies, and the soldier pressing his near-naked, muscled body on his lover, that still seems shocking in its passion today.
It's more like a lyrical tone poem, and Brian Eno's New Age-y score goes well with that. Jarman isn't a bully, and when the crucifying comes around he doesn't bludgeon us -- first we see a close-up of his face, as arrows pierce through Sebastian's skin, silently with the exception of the wind, and Jarman gives us one final distorted image to meditate on the death of the one we can't have. 9/10
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