Derek Jarman and Amy Johnson in "Aria" (1987).
Derek Jarman and Tilda Swinton in "Aria" (1987).
Dungeness, Ken, United Kingdom
Derek Jarman's garden, Prospect Cottage, Dungeness, in May 2007.
Canford Magna, Wimborne BH21 3AD, United Kingdom
Derek attended Canford School in Dorset.
Strand, London WC2R 2LS, United Kingdom
In 1960, Jarman enrolled at King's College London, where he remained until 1963.
University College London, Gower St, London WC1E 6BT, United Kingdom
In 1963, Derek entered the Slade School of Fine Art, where he studied for four years.
(The author, a painter and film-maker, recounts what it wa...)
The author, a painter and film-maker, recounts what it was like growing up gay in a heterosexual society, and describes how he has adjusted to being HIV positive.
(Stripped of rank and exiled to a remote Sardinian outpost...)
Stripped of rank and exiled to a remote Sardinian outpost, Roman soldier and suspected Christian Sebastian becomes the object of his commanding officer Maximus' aggressive desire. As Sebastian turns his back on his fellow soldiers in favor of his own visionary mystical longings, the sun-bleached Mediterranean idyll becomes a psycho-sexual hothouse, where predatory desire and religious longing set the stage for a shocking tableau of death and martyrdom.
(Prospero, a potent magician, lives on a desolate isle wit...)
Prospero, a potent magician, lives on a desolate isle with his virginal daughter, Miranda. He's in exile, banished from his duchy by his usurping brother and the King of Naples. Providence brings these enemies near. Aided by his vassal the spirit Ariel, Prospero conjures a tempest to wreck the Italian ship.
(The volatile life of the eponymous 17th-century painter i...)
The volatile life of the eponymous 17th-century painter is gorgeously re-imagined through his brilliant, near-blasphemous paintings and flirtations with the underworld.
(The Last Of England is a devastating vision of 80's Brita...)
The Last Of England is a devastating vision of 80's Britain. Images of war and urban decay are intercut with Jarman's own childhood home movies, creating a shocking yet beautiful and poetic film with a much praised soundtrack.
(A film with no spoken dialogue, just follows the music an...)
A film with no spoken dialogue, just follows the music and lyrics of Benjamin Britten's "War Requiem, which include WWI soldier poet Wilfred Owen's poems reflecting the war's horrors. It shows the story of an Englishman soldier (Wilfred Owen) and a nurse (his bride) during World War I.
(A humorous portrait of one of the 20th century’s most inf...)
A humorous portrait of one of the 20th century’s most influential philosophers, Wittgenstein is a visually stunning and profoundly entertaining work about modern philosophy and the dark genius, that revolutionized it.
(Derek Jarman the romantic meets Jarman the iconoclast in ...)
Derek Jarman the romantic meets Jarman the iconoclast in a lush soundscape, pulsing against a purely blue screen. Laying bare his physical and spiritual state in a narration about his life, Blue is by turns poignant, amusing, poetic and philosophical.
In his early years, Derek attended Canford School in Dorset. Then, in 1960, he enrolled at King's College London, where he remained until 1963, when he entered the Slade School of Fine Art. Jarman studied at the school for four years.
At the beginning of his career, Derek was a member of a group of young painters, including Patrick Procter and David Hockney, who embodied a changing mood in British art. In 1967, Jarman was included in the Tate Young Contemporaries exhibition, as well as the inaugural exhibition at the Lisson Gallery and the 5th Biennale des Jeunes in Paris.
In his early years, alongside painting, Derek began to produce set designs for opera and ballet, which fused his personal style of painting with the scale and three-dimensionality, needed for the theatre. This later evolved into the design for the film alongside director Ken Russell, which led directly into his first foray in film-making in the early 1970's, when Derek began to make Super-8s and write film scripts. Derek made his mainstream narrative filmmaking debut with "Sebastiane" (1976), about the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian. This was one of the first British films to feature positive images of gay sexuality. Against the backdrop of Thatcherism and a socially conservative Britain, Jarman’s work made queer lives and history visible.
Jarman’s other films (many of which were shot on a shoestring budget with Super-8 or 16-mm rather than conventional 35-mm stock) include "Jubilee" (1977), "The Tempest" (1979), "Imagining October" (1984), "Caravaggio" (1986), "War Requiem" (1989), "Edward II" (1991), "Wittgenstein" (1993) and others. "Caravaggio" was represented at the 36th Berlin International Film Festival, where it won the Silver Bear for outstanding single achievement.
In the early 1980's, Derek's artistic practice reflected his commitment to the activity in raising awareness of AIDS and his efforts as a campaigner against Clause 28. In the late 1980's, Derek returned to and expanded the super 8mm-based form he had previously worked in on "Imagining October" and "The Angelic Conversation". His movie, "The Last of England" (1987), was another collage of Super-8 films and a harsh judgement on the Thatcherite politics of the late 1980's. The title ingeniously reinterpreted Maddox Brown's famous painting of emigrants, leaving the English shores for a life in the New World. The film has been compared to Humphrey Jennings's documentary "Listen to Britain" (1941), which constitutes its very antithesis. Where "Listen to Britain" indulges in the idyllic, "The Last of England" tries to expose the decay.
Towards the end of the 1980's, Jarman became a well-known person in Britain. He had been diagnosed as HIV positive and became a major public spokesman against what he perceived to be anti-gay politics. Also, at that time, he published some well-received monographs and moved to a cottage on the Kent coast, where he cultivated his famous garden.
In 1989, Jarman directed "War Requiem" (1989), a film version of Benjamin Britten's musical treatment of Wilfred Owen's war poetry, and subsequently "Edward II" (1991), a visually magnificent adaptation of Christopher Marlowe's Elizabethan drama, blending theatricalised staging, pop video aesthetics, overt homoeroticism, covert misogyny and poetic dialogue. In "Edward II", Derek emphasized the tragedy of martyrdom, political violence and sexual oppression against the homosexual king and his followers. This return to more narrative forms continued in Jarman's next work, "Wittgenstein" (1993), a brilliantly surrealistic and provocative film on the biography of homosexual philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.
Jarman's last film, if the posthumously released, but much earlier made Super-8 collage "Glitterbug" (1994) is excluded, is "Blue" (1993). As a metaphorical reflection of his own blindness, caused by his disease, Jarman here showed just a blue frame, a monochrome surface, inspired by French painter Yves Klein, shown throughout the performance. The blue frame was accompanied by Simon Fisher Turner's synthesized music and words, spoken by Nigel Terry, John Quentin and Tilda Swinton, three of Jarman's favorite actors. "Blue" was first shown at the Biennial in Venice in 1993 and later as an installation at various museums of modern art around the world.
During his career, Jarman also made a side income by directing music videos for various artists, including Marianne Faithfull, the Smiths and the Pet Shop Boys. In addition, he authored several books, including his autobiography "Dancing Ledge" (1984), which details his life until the age 40, as well as two volumes of memoirs, "Modern Nature" (1992) and "At Your Own Risk" (1992).
(A humorous portrait of one of the 20th century’s most inf...)1993
(A film with no spoken dialogue, just follows the music an...)1989
(Stripped of rank and exiled to a remote Sardinian outpost...)1976
(The volatile life of the eponymous 17th-century painter i...)1986
(A British monarch's preference for his male lover over hi...)1991
(Derek Jarman the romantic meets Jarman the iconoclast in ...)1993
(Prospero, a potent magician, lives on a desolate isle wit...)1979
(The Last Of England is a devastating vision of 80's Brita...)1988
"Violet has the shortest wavelength of the spectrum. Behind it, the invisible ultraviolet. Roses are Red, Violets are Blue. Poor violet, violated for a rhyme."
"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."
"I'm not afraid of death, but I am afraid of dying. Pain can be alleviated by morphine, but the pain of social ostracism cannot be taken away."
"All men are homosexual, some turn straight. It must be very odd to be a straight man because your sexuality is hopelessly defensive. It's like an ideal of racial purity."
"I want the world to be filled with white fluffy duckies."
Jarman was outspoken on homosexuality, his public fight for gay rights and his personal struggle with AIDS.
Physical Characteristics: On December 22, 1986, Jarman was diagnosed as HIV positive. Later, he suffered from an AIDS-related illness, which caused his death.
Quotes from others about the person
"He voiced the belief of many people with HIV." - Peter Tatchell, LGBT activist
Keith Collins was a long-time companion of Derek.