Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5
United Kingdom, 1993. Channel 4, Arts Council of Great Britain, Opal Records, BBC Radio 3, Basilisk Communications, Uplink. Directed by Derek Jarman. Screenplay by Derek Jarman. Produced by Takashi Asai, James Mackay. Music by Simon Fisher-Turner.
Nearing the end of his life and losing his eyesight, filmmaker Derek Jarman made his last work without compromising his ability to have audiences see life through his perspective. A screen that is perpetually, endlessly blue appears for eighty minutes while music and a host of voices appear on the soundtrack, a central narrator filling in for Jarman himself as he ruminates on the mundane daily realities of life with AIDS, the outward and inward experience of a man reaching the end of a physical life but displaying a reserve of inspiration for one that will continue to exist in dream.
It’s Jarman at his most conceptual, he was never a filmmaker you could just relax and enjoy, but it is also fascinating, sometimes funny, often very thought provoking. The swirling mellow emotions brought on by the colour block that never abates are combined with sounds that conjure up incredibly vivid moments in your imagination that cannot be achieved simply from hearing text read aloud; imagine a one-man play being performed directly into your cerebral cortex and that is perhaps what is achieved here.
The film was released a year before Jarman’s death in 1994.