Jarman (all this maddening beauty)


February 2014 will see the 20th anniversary of the death of Derek Jarman. Between then and now I expect we’ll see some retrospectives, although we’ve already had an excellent cinematic one, Isaac Julien and Tilda Swinton’s memorial/documentary Derek (2008). I’d be pleased to see more of Jarman’s films given a decent release on disc: In the Shadow of the Sun has never been available on DVD, and Sebastiane has yet to be released in an uncensored print. When the BFI is releasing Peter de Rome’s gay porn uncut on DVD there’s no longer any excuse for this.


Stephen Benedicto filmed by Ben Carver.

Jarman (all this maddening beauty) is a multimedia solo performance work by playwright Caridad Svich currently in production, with plans for performance in the US later next year. Most of us are unlikely to see this but there is a short promo/trailer by Ben Carver featuring some Jarmanesque imagery, albeit a lot more high-def than Derek was usually allowed. I’d have been tempted to use slowed-down Super-8 if you can still find the cameras or film stock. Production company force/collision has more information about the project in pdf form. Via Towleroad.



Previously on { feuilleton }
Sebastiane by Derek Jarman
A Journey to Avebury by Derek Jarman
Derek Jarman’s music videos
Derek Jarman’s Neutron
Mister Jarman, Mister Moore and Doctor Dee
The Tempest illustrated
In the Shadow of the Sun by Derek Jarman
Derek Jarman at the Serpentine
The Angelic Conversation
The life and work of Derek Jarman

7 thoughts on “Jarman (all this maddening beauty)”

  1. In the Shadow of The Sun is available on DVD:
    The Super 8 Programme Vol 2: In the Shadow of the Sun, Art of Mirrors etc, Rarovision IND 40017

  2. Thanks, I ought to have said “released properly”. Raro and Kino in the US are two companies I avoid. Raro make obscure titles available but their quality implies their sources aren’t always the best available, or even officially approved. I have a set of Jodorowsky films they put out before they were reissued properly a few years ago; the print of Holy Mountain looks like it was taken from a badly-transferred video tape. I’ve got In the Shadow of the Sun in a copy that was itself taken from video. Since this has been floating around for a while there’s no guarantee that the Raro version isn’t the same one.

  3. Hi John,
    The Raro In the Shadow of the Sun is indeed video sourced, at one point some minor tracking lines can be seen, but until a legitimate edition comes along, it’s a decent alternative – perhaps the weakest aspect of the DVD is that TG’s soundtrack sounds a shade sped up, probably due to the PAL speed-up thing common to a lot of European DVDs. I would have thought Jarman’s Super 8 work would have been given the BFI treatment by now, considering their commitment to bringing Experimental Cinema to a wider audience. Along with Jarman’s films, I’d love to see the BFI do something with the Antony Balch/William Burroughs/Brion Gysin films, which deserve a better release than the current Cherry Red DVD anthology. By the way, when you mentioned the uncensored Sebastiane being unavailable, are you including the US Kino Blu ? I assumed this edition was fully uncut and properly framed.

    Incidentally, this blog is absolutely one of my favourites, and although this is my first comment, I’ve been stopping by here everyday for ages now. Thanks ! Wes

  4. Thanks John. Not played my Raro DVD for a while. Agree with you and Wes about the super 8’s getting the proper treatment.
    Love the site John. So many connections on art and music front and like Wes it’s on my daily read.

  5. Thanks for the compliments :)

    Wes: Having worked a fair bit with video in the past, I can’t imagine the PAL frame-rate making much difference to the pitch, more likely it was altered by Jarman himself or by poor duplication. One of the ITSOTS releases was on Jettisoundz, a label whose quality control left much to be desired:


    All their cover art was terrible for a start.

    Many (but not all) of Jarman’s shorter Super-8 films are scattered around the current DVD releases.

    Re: Kino’s Sebastiane, I’ve boycotted them for years after buying a couple of disgracefully bad releases. Seeing they’d released Sebastiane in Blu-ray I did go looking for info about it but couldn’t find the relevant details. They do The Tempest as well which I’d really like in a BR edition.

  6. Hi John,
    Yep, I remember the Jettisoundz label, I once had their Scorpio Rising tape and the color on Kustom Kar Kommandos would switch to b/w at various points. I then made the mistake of returning the tape and literally did not see Scorpio Rising for years until Channel 4 showed an optically censored version in the late 90’s… Just to get back to Jarman’s Super 8 films – A few months ago I began working on a post on my own blog, a sort of annotated guide to Glitterbug, trying to catalogue the various films – some of the films are readily identifiable – Alternative Miss World, Broken English, A Journey to Avebury, T.G Psychic Rally In Heaven, a Spanish arts program with Psychic TV, a snippet of a Smiths promo. But there was a lot of tricky stuff in there – the footage of actors on the set of Sebastiane was widely attributed to a film alternatively known as Sebastiane Wrap, Sebastiane Mirror Film, Mirrors, A Break from Sebastiane but I wasn’t so sure, thinking it could well have been from the short film The Making of Sebastiane directed by Hugh Smith, Sebastiane’s sound assistant. So my post was already starting to founder. I actually emailed someone who worked on the restoration of some of the Super 8s for an exhibition (at the Tate I believe) but the mail was never answered and in my disappointment I consigned the post to the scrap heap. I think there is an art book available dedicated to the Super 8s – frame grabs from the films I presume but at the time it was prohibitively expensive.

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