Derek Jarman – Glitterbug (1994)

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Review

Glitterbug consists of film strips shot by Jarman with his Super-8 between 1971 and 1986, a format he was constantly experimenting with and made use of in the film collage In the Shadow of the Sun (1981) for example, it is an endless montage of loosely connected Super-8 sequences put together alternatively into an impressionistic shimmer of beauty, alternatively with an aggressive, rhetorical edge. The Last of England (1987), similar in a technical way, became even more famous. It was a devastating criticism of Thatcherism and of what Jarman per-ceived to be the decline of Britain. Jarman’s most distinct feature was his constant role as a man against the tide his attacks against anything considered to be part of the Establishment, whether it concerned sexual preferences or political power structures. The boldness re-appears in Glitterbug, where images from Jarman’s own everyday life in London in the early 70’s, with rooms filled with anti-cultural fetishes from the Swinging London era, are mixed with various documentaries from the making of some of Jarman’s notorious successes: the gay film Sebastiane (1975) and the punk protest Jubilee (1977).Sometimes everything takes place in slow-motion, sometimes in fast-motion, always accompanied by Brian Eno’s expressive synthesizer loops. On the whole the combination Jarman and Eno, the ex-member of Roxy Music, seem to be a perfect symbiosis of a bygone era, the early seventies with its bold mixture of styles and elements of camp. Some of the series of images shows a more lyrical documentary side to Jar-man, the brilliantly colourful shots from the sublimely beautiful rolling country-side surrounding Stonehenge in the west of England, or the pictures of Antonio Gaudi’s uncompleted cathedral Sagrada Famiglia in Barcelona, a fantastic building where fallic towers and pinnacles where no doubt seen by Jarman as a suitable monument for the homosexual love he spent his life trying to portray. Glitter-bug will hardly be remembered as Jarman’s finest hour, but even so it is a suitable epilogue from a great artist.

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