Derek Jarman

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Derek Jarman.jpg

Derek Michael Jarman (born January 31, 1942 in Northwood , London , England , † February 19, 1994 in St. Bartholomy's Hospital , London) was a British film director and artist.

life and work

Derek Jarman spent his youth at his father's garrison locations in the Air Force and boarding school. The family lived in the Villa Zuassa on Lake Maggiore and in Curry Mallet . He occupied himself early on with painting , later with creating stage sets , with film design and since the early sixties with filmmaking.

1960 to 1963 he studied English , history and art history at King's College in London and made trips to Greece , Crete , Italy in the following years ; several times to the USA , southern Spain and North Africa . It was in the USA that he first heard of Andy Warhol , who for him and his friends was one of the most important contemporary artists.

In 1963 he moved from college to the art academy ( Slade School of Art ), which he attended until 1967. Here he began to paint theatrical sets. Among other things, he designed the sets for Jazz Calendar (with Frederick Ashton ) and Ken Russel's The Rake's Progress . In 1970 he was commissioned by Ken Russell to design his film Savage Messiah . In Russell Jarman found a good teacher for his own film work. Even in his collaboration with Ken Russell, Derek Jarman showed himself to be a self-confident and innovative artist, as was the case with the 1971 historical drama Die Teufel ( The Devils ).

In 1970 he shot the first of his numerous short films on a borrowed cine camera , as painting became less and less of an interest to him during this time. In 1976 Derek Jarman made his first feature film, Sebastiane , "to test the possibilities of filmmaking outside the usual boundaries of British cinema, in a situation that should be as free as possible from the restrictions of commercial fiction ." After his death in 1994 he made seven long films, including The Tempest (1979), In The Shadow Of The Sun (1980), Imagining October (1984), The Angelic Conversation (1985), Caravaggio (1986), Edward II (1991) and Wittgenstein (1993).

In 1984 he shot a video clip for Psychic TV and Jordi Valls in Cadaques at the invitation of Spanish television . In October 1984 Jarman was a guest of the Soviet Film Artists Association. He was invited with other independent filmmakers (including Sally Potter ) to present his work in Moscow and Baku . In the second half of the 1980s, Jarman directed several music videos for titles by The Smiths (e.g. The Queen is Dead ) and the Pet Shop Boys (e.g. It's a Sin ), whose stage show for the tour "Introspective" (1989) he designed.

When the Thatcher government introduced Clause 28 into a planned law on local government in 1987/88 to prevent the publication and use of material that could serve to “promote homosexuality ”, Jarman responded, in addition to public protests, with increased treatment Theme in his films. Homosexuality and art as the driving forces of his work, a high degree of willingness to experiment, an emphatically subjectivistic, unconventional anti-naturalistic style, conscious and unconscious self-presentation , criticism of civilization , and aesthetically formulated tendency towards magic and ritual make his cinematic style unmistakable. Jarman repeatedly emphasizes the moment of the magical and the dreamlike in his world of images - the film is an instrument to bring dreams to life. Through his experiments with light, color and the layering of images, he brings working with the camera closer to painting.

Derek Jarman's house in Dungeness

After he was diagnosed with AIDS in 1986 , he bought Prospect Cottage, a wooden fisherman's hut in Dungeness , Kent , England , built in 1900, and artistically designed the garden with flint bulbs , driftwood and rusted iron objects. He understood this as an attempt to heal a landscape that is dominated by a nearby nuclear power station . Jarman found the hut in 1986 when he was looking for a piece of forest with Atlantic rabbit bells for the film The Garden and stopped for fish and chips at the Pilot Inn in Dungeness . The development of the garden and the plants' struggle for survival in the inhospitable landscape became a symbol of Jarman's disease. Since 1991 the photographer Howard Sooley helped him design the garden. In the last few years of his life, Jarman returned to painting and also wrote a number of autobiographical books in which he described how he came to his artistic work: Dancing Ledge (1984), The Last of England (1987), Modern Nature (1991), At Your Own Risk (1992) and Chroma (1994).

Derek Jarman gradually went blind from his illness. Nevertheless, he made the film Blue from his "point of view". It became a kind of audio film, the screen stays blue for 70 minutes. Shortly after the premiere, Jarman died at the age of 52 and was buried in the churchyard of St. Clement in Old Romney on Romney Marsh . The documentary Derek by Isaac Julien and Tilda Swinton provides a cinematic retrospective of Jarman's life and work .

Derek Jarman's grave at St. Clement's Church in Old Romney, Kent

In honor of Derek Jarman, the Derek Jarman Lab was founded at London's Birkbeck College , which continues the work of the London Consortium and is dedicated to postgraduate film training and film production in the humanities context.




  • Dancing Ledge. London 1984. Reprinted: Quartet Books, London 1991, ISBN 0-7043-7011-5 .
  • Modern Nature. The Journals of Derek Jarman. Random Century, London 1991, ISBN 0-7126-2184-9 .
  • Chroma. A Book of Color - June '93. Century Random, London 1994, ISBN 0-7126-5754-1 .
  • Blue. The book about the film (English and German). Martin Schmitz Verlag, Kassel 1994, ISBN 3-927795-13-5 .
  • Derek Jarman. Up In The Air. Collected Film Scripts. With an Introduction by Michael O'Pray. Vintage, London 1996, ISBN 0-09-930226-8 .
  • Derek Jarman. A portrait. artist, film-maker, designer. Introduction by Roger Wollen. Thames and Hudson, London 1996, ISBN 0-500-01723-9 .
  • with David L. Hirst (Ed.): The Last of England. Constable, London 1987, ISBN 0-09-468080-9 .
  • Derek Jarman's Caravaggio. Photographs by Gerald Incaldela. Thames and Hudson, London.


  • Michael Christie (Ed.): Derek Jarman, At Your Own Risk. A Saint's Testament. Vintage, London 1993.
  • Martin Frey: Derek Jarman - Moving Pictures by a Painter. BoD, 2008, ISBN 978-3-8370-1217-0 .
  • Derek Jarman, Keith Collins : Derek Jarman's Garden. Thames and Hudson, London 1995.
  • Chris Lippard (Ed.): By angels driven. The films of Derek Jarman. Flicks Books, 1996, ISBN 0-948911-82-4 .
  • Michael O'Pray: Derek Jarman. Dreams of England. British Film Institute, London 1996, ISBN 0-85170-590-1 .
  • Christina Scherer, Guntram Vogt: Derek Jarman. In: moment. Issue 24. Experiments and Visions. Studies on the new British cinema. Marburg 1996, ISBN 3-89472-034-4 , pp. 8-68.
  • Tony Peake: Derek Jarman. Abacus Books, London 2001, ISBN 0-349-11243-6
  • Stephen Farthing, Ed Webb-Ingall (Eds.): Derek Jarman. The sketchbooks. Deutscher Kunstverlag, Berlin 2013, ISBN 978-3-422-07200-8 .

Individual evidence

  1. Derek Jarman, Keith Collins 1995. Derek Jarman's Garden. London, Thames and Hudson, 5th
  2. , website of the Derek Jarman Lab
  3. Notice on the exhibition , accessed on August 7, 2014.
  4. Magic Maps for the Life Journey Film. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of November 7, 2013, p. 19.

Web links