The Jarman Award: Derek Jarman: Writer and artist Stewart Home on Jubilee – reviewing the DVD release in 2007
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The Jarman Award: Derek Jarman: Writer and artist Stewart Home on Jubilee – reviewing the DVD release in 2007
Derek Jarman, image courtesy of James Mackay

Derek Jarman, image courtesy of James Mackay

This has got to be the worst ‘punk’ film ever made. Jarman couldn’t direct traffic let alone actors and a camera crew. This kicks off with the occultist John Dee summoning up an angel (i.e. some drip in ballet gear) for Elizabeth I. So then it’s off to late 1970s London to see what the future holds. The dominant social order has broken down to be replaced only by chaos, and we witness a household of punks living out their fantasy lives. There are a couple of dysfunctional brothers in an incestuous gay relationship; think what John Waters would have done with that, but Jarman does nothing. There is Toyah as the ugliest of Jarman’s many ugly women, and I couldn’t wait for her to lisp her way off to her dreadful pop career of the early eighties. Jordan from the Kings Road Sex shop and scene around the Sex Pistols plays another psychotic, and gets to sing as well. Meanwhile Elizabeth I and her entourage are wandering around a city where the cinematic depiction of social breakdown manages to make its source and inspiration (mainly Jean-Luc Godard movies of the mid-to-late sixties) look sophisticated in comparison.

Now I know there are those of you out there who rate shit like “Weekend” but if I was gonna rip-off the new wave I’d go for Marker or Resnais (okay, so “One On One” wasn’t bad, and I love “My Life To Live”, but most Godard is dreck). Jarman wears his all too obvious influences on his sleeve but never comes close to matching them, and there is a particularly excruciating scene in which he pastiches Kenneth Anger.
So why bother with this pile of poo? Well you get a very young Adam Ant looking cute and slightly disturbed (more of a ‘natural’ than an ‘actor’) and the old Ants (and I mean like young and savage) performing “Plastic Surgery” which is great. You also get Wayne (we’re talking pre-Jayne, pre-sex change) County miming along to “Paranoia Paradise”, and s/he is truly brilliant. As for the actresses, Little Nell is as attractive as it gets, Jarman really wasn’t into women. I saw this screened in 1978 or 1979 in a little cinema on Wardour Street, just along from where the Marquee Club used to be. The audience of mainly punks and skins sat through it jeering, and at the end wrecked the cinema. They felt cheated and peed off. This film still leaves me feeling that way. The extra on this Second Sight DVD is a long interview with Jarman; he hardly talks about film and among other things says he should have been a gardener. All I can say is he shouldn’t have been a film-maker and I got the feeling he knew he was a talentless hack and just fell into it by luck. “Jubilee” is too pretentious to make it as trash, its just awful, truly awful. Bad meaning bad, not bad meaning good.

Re-published from stewarthomesociety.org thanks to Stewart Home.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009 | Tagged with , , ,


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