17 August 2003 | zetes
See it on the new Criterion disc
Difficult to describe, but amazing as hell. Derek Jarman examines the punk aesthetic, with a framing device that Queen Elizabeth I has asked her court magician to show her England's future. And I doubt she likes what she sees, a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The prophecy follows a group of punks who rebel and murder pretty much randomly. The film's likely to disgust many; it lives in much the same world as Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, and, just like that film, we are expected both to revile and have fun with the horrors that are perpetrated on screen. Criticism has been all over on this film, but it's mostly been negative, with a few cultists embracing it. This is the kind of film that I can really love, as I am a kind of pseudo-revolutionary myself. I enjoy observing rebellion in all of its forms, anyway, and I like to think I would like to somehow take part in it. Yes, that could be considered pretentious, but that especially fits in with this film. Jarman was never of like mind with the movement he was depicting, and he himself is emulating what he perceives as punk. And he's partly horrified at what he's observing. I loved watching this movie, in all its simultaneous beauty and ugliness. The documentary included on the Criterion disc, Jubilee: A Time Less Golden, convinced me that the film wasn't only impressive on a primal level. It's one of the best of this kind of documentaries, in that it doesn't at all slavishly tell us how great Jarman or Jubilee is. Instead, it clearly outlines all the contradictions of the artist and the film. Strangely enough, it helps solidify the importance and greatness of the film, while pretty much quashing the many criticisms that have been leveled at it throughout the years. The review of the film at DVD Verdict (www.dvdverdict.com/reviews/jubilee.shtml) was also a big help. Jubilee is definitely a must-see, an outrageous and remarkable cinematic experience. 9/10.