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Wittgenstein (1993) More at IMDbPro »

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Derek Jarman (written by) and
Terry Eagleton (written by) ...
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Release Date:
17 September 1993 (USA) See more »
A dramatization, in modern theatrical style, of the life and thought of the Viennese-born, Cambridge-educated... See more » | Add synopsis »
1 win See more »
(6 articles)
Lfs's Ben Gibson to join Aftrs
 (From ScreenDaily. 3 July 2014, 5:46 AM, PDT)

Celebrating Derek Jarman 20 years after his death
 (From The Guardian - Film News. 24 January 2014, 4:06 PM, PST)

Gibson stands down from Lfs
 (From ScreenDaily. 14 January 2014, 1:35 AM, PST)

User Reviews:
Undoubtedly intriguing, but ultimately unsuccessful See more (10 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)
Clancy Chassay ... Young Ludwig Wittgenstein

Jill Balcon ... Leopoldine Wittgenstein
Sally Dexter ... Hermine Wittgenstein
Gina Marsh ... Gretyl Wittgenstein
Vanya Del Borgo ... Helene Wittgenstein (as Vania Del Borgo)
Ben Scantlebury ... Hans Wittgenstein
Howard Sooley ... Kurt Wittgenstein
David Radzinowicz ... Rudolf Wittgenstein
Jan Latham-Koenig ... Paul Wittgenstein
Tony Peake ... Tutor
Michelle Wade ... Tutor
Tanya Wade ... Tutor
Roger Cook ... Tutor
Anna Campeau ... Tutor
Mike O'Pray ... Tutor
Nabil Shaban ... Martian

Karl Johnson ... Ludwig Wittgenstein

Michael Gough ... Bertrand Russell

Tilda Swinton ... Lady Ottoline Morrell
Donald McInnes ... Hairdresser
Hussein McGraw ... Prisoner
Christopher Hughes ... Prisoner (as Chris Hughes)
Budge Tremlett ... Prisoner
Aisling Magill ... Schoolgirl
Perry Kadir ... Artist's Model
John Quentin ... John Maynard Keynes
Kevin Collins ... Johnny
Lynn Seymour ... Lydia Lopokova

Ashley Russell ... Student
Stuart Bennett ... Student
David Mansell ... Student
Steven Downes ... Student
Peter Fillingham ... Student
Fayez Samara ... Student
Samantha Cones ... Cyclist
Kate Temple ... Cyclist
Sarah Graham ... Cyclist
Layla Alexander Garrett ... Sophia Janovskaya

Directed by
Derek Jarman 
Writing credits
Derek Jarman (written by) and
Terry Eagleton (written by) and
Ken Butler (written by)

Produced by
Tariq Ali .... producer
Takashi Asai .... executive producer: Uplink
Ben Gibson .... executive producer: BFI
Film Editing by
Budge Tremlett 
Art Direction by
Annie La Paz 
Costume Design by
Sandy Powell 
Makeup Department
Miri Ben-Schlomo .... assistant hair stylist (as Miri Ben-Shlomo)
Miri Ben-Schlomo .... assistant makeup artist (as Miri Ben-Shlomo)
Morag Ross .... key hair stylist
Morag Ross .... key makeup artist
Production Management
Anna Campeau .... production manager
Gina Marsh .... production manager
Eliza Mellor .... executive in charge of production: BFI
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Ken Butler .... associate director
Richard Hewitt .... second assistant director
Davina Nicholson .... first assistant director
Art Department
Mandy Barnes .... art department assistant
Peter Fillingham .... art department assistant
Karl Lydon .... art department assistant
Madeleine Morris .... art department assistant
Ruth Naylor .... art department assistant
Melanie Oliver .... art department standby
Matthew Parsons .... scenic artist
Kevin Rowe .... art department standby
Kate Stubbs .... property buyer
Jonathan Wells .... carpenter
David Williams .... carpenter
Sound Department
Orin Beaton .... boom operator
Toby Calder .... sound editor
Paul Carr .... dubbing mixer
George Richards .... sound recordist
Camera and Electrical Department
Denzil Armour-Brown .... focus puller
John Donne .... grip (as Johnny Donne)
Debbie Kaplan .... clapper loader
Araf Khan .... second camera assistant
Drew Meldon .... rigger
Howard Sooley .... still photographer
John Turley .... gaffer
Cephus Vazquez-Howard .... best boy
James Welland .... lighting camera
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Penny Beard .... wardrobe supervisor
Michael Weldon .... wardrobe assistant
Music Department
Paul Barrett .... musician: violin
Judith Hall .... musician: flute
André Jacquemin .... music mixer (as Andre Jacquemin)
Jan Latham-Koenig .... musical director
Jan Latham-Koenig .... musician: piano
Other crew
Gordon Baskerville .... production assistant
Emily Caston .... unit runner
Ademola Falola .... caterer
Polly Hope .... production secretary
Sky Macaskill .... stand-in
Stephen Masters .... titles (as Steve Masters)
Pearl Morrison .... script supervisor
Trevor Williams .... unit runner
David Roden .... researcher (uncredited)
Karen Brown .... special thanks
John Krausa .... special thanks
Colin MacCabe .... special thanks
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
72 min | Sweden:75 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.66 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful.
Undoubtedly intriguing, but ultimately unsuccessful, 26 January 2013
Author: tomgillespie2002 from United Kingdom

I knew nothing of Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein before seeing Derek Jarman's 'biopic' of the great thinker, and after the film, felt I didn't really know much more. Wittgenstein came from Vienna, born into an aristocracy that produced many geniuses in various mediums. Although his great mind would have no doubt seen him become prodigious in whatever he chose to do, his real love was philosophy, the only subject that gave him any true satisfaction. Through his publications and teachings at Cambridge, he amassed an almost disciple-like following of those who understood his radical musings. Plagued with a psychological affliction that saw three of his brothers commit suicide, he was often ashamed with his privilege and sought refuge in the working man, who he romanticised through the literature of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.

Most of that knowledge I gained from internet research after watching the film, as Derek Jarman opts for a more interpretive approach - less of a timeline biopic and more of a quasi-abstract work of art. Jarman strips back all conventional cinematic methods and employs a plain black background, with the only presence on screen being the actors and few minimalistic props. He also ignores period detail, having the characters dress in costumes from various periods, often in bright, outlandish colours, using objects that had yet to be invented (similar to his excellent Caravaggio (1986)). This is successful in attempting to portray Wittgenstein's obviously haphazard look at the world, almost like being trapped between his deep ideas and reality (something that is observed by Maynard Keynes (John Quentin) later in the film), but this also makes the film so visually unappealing that it can be rather dull, like watching a small drama group enact a live play.

Yet although the film is rather un-inspirational in terms of cinematic techniques, Wittgenstein is undoubtedly intriguing, putting a fresh outlook on the tired sub-genre of the biopic. Welsh actor Karl Johnson is fine in the role of Wittgenstein, embodying the disconnection his character feels with the world. There is also fine support from Michael Gough, Jarman's muse Tilda Swinton, and Clancy Chassay, playing the narrating young Wittgenstein. His life was rich and full of incident, and Jarman's failure to really grasp the enormity of Wittgenstein makes the film ultimately a disappointment, focusing mainly on his relationship with a young philosopher called Johnny (Kevin Collins) - as though Wittgenstein's torment could have been the result of sexual repression - and only the skimming the surface of his time fighting in World War II, and the physical abuse he inflicted on his young pupils during his time as a schoolteacher. So Wittgenstein will remain somewhat an uncelebrated mystery, even though he is remembered as one of the greatest in his fields by his peers.

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