As a teenager growing up in the ’80s it was impossible to overlook Derek Jarman’s work. He was all over MTV. He was part of a group of British filmmakers that included Julien Temple and Alex Cox who made music videos or music inspired films that seemed particularly in-sync with their times. Jarman’s work was interesting, experimental and demanding of its audience but I appreciated the challenges he presented.
I had grown up watching classic films but as a troubled and rebellious teenager I was eager to break away from convention. Discovering the work of an artistically inclined gay filmmaker like Jarman, who was creating with a limited budget while trying to express his ideas about the world and his unique place in it, was incredibly inspiring to me. I was drawn to Jarman’s work as well as the work of directors like Andy Warhol before I even knew what the word “avant-garde” meant. Foreign films were still foreign to me but like most kids my age, I had my MTV and I watched the music channel with wide-eyed wonder in the early half of the ’80s (1981-84). I didn’t know it at the time but my exposure to the work of directors like Jarman at such an early age helped make me into the film lover I am today. While my passion for ’60s and ’70s cinema is never ending, it should also be apparent that I appreciate the unexpected, thirst for the undiscovered and thrive on the unconventional. I’m also able and willing to see the good in films that are often overlooked due to their limited budgets and production restrictions. I owe some of that to Derek Jarman.
I recently had the opportunity to write about Derek Jarman for Fandor.com during their week-long appreciation of the director’s life and work. The two pieces I wrote are:
- Radical Shakespeare: The Alchemy of Derek Jarman’s “The Tempest”
- A Light that Never Went Out: the MTV Legacy of Derek Jarman.
The first piece discusses Jarman’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s last play, The Tempest while the other piece focuses on his music video work for artists such as Marianne Faithfull and bands like The Smiths. If you’re familiar with Derek Jarman’s work or just curious about this unusual and controversial filmmaker please make your way over to Fandor.
Derek Jarman’s video for Marianne Faithfull’s “Ballad of Lucy Jordan” (1979)