Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
United Kingdom, 1991. British Screen Productions, BBC Films, Working Title Films, Uplink. Screenplay by Derek Jarman, Stephen McBride, Ken Butler, based on the play by Christopher Marlowe. Cinematography by Ian Wilson. Produced by Steve Clark-Hall, Antony Root. Music by Simon Fisher-Turner. Production Design by Christopher Hobbs. Costume Design by Sandy Powell. Film Editing by George Akers.
Unique visual sumptuousness aside, this dry adaptation of Christopher Marlowe’s popular play leaves a lot to be desired. Steven Waddington is excellent as the title character, a gay monarch of 12th century England whose passion for life couldn’t make him tough enough to rule the country against the conniving machinations of the evil Mortimer (Nigel Terry) and the jealousy of his disappointed wife (Tilda Swinton). This was among director Derek Jarman’s last films, and is certainly the most narrative-friendly of all his works. He even turns the last third of the story into an allegory for the gay rights movement of the last decade, an apt comparison considering how modern the play still feels. The sets are mostly bare rooms with minimal furniture, allowing Sandy Powell’s stunning costume designs to stand completely out. It’s not as effective a love story as it should be, mostly because of Andrew Tiernan‘s thoroughly unlikable performance as the unsympathetic Gaveston, Edward’s lover; Swinton, however, is compelling, and steals every shot she’s in.