Review - Criterion Collection DVD

Artist: Jubilee

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Derek Jarman was never known as a subtle allegorist, and "Jubilee" (his second film) did a lot to help establish that reputation. Emerging from the same angry and disaffected scene that yielded the Sex Pistols -- Jarman filmed their first gig shortly before beginning work on this film -- "Jubilee" is a sort of visual version of John Lydon's gobsmacked "God Save the Queen." In it, Queen Elizabeth I consults court crock (and supposed soothsayer) John Dee for a look into her kingdom's future. What does Dee see? Why, punk rock London, of course: a postapocalyptic wreck of leather, spikes and baby-carriage fires. Shot in Jarman's homespun style and based on a highly personalized (and hastily written) script, it's a spot-on chronicle of the roiling activity of a pissed-off underclass, told from the point of view of one particularly disaffected member. With appearances from Adam Ant, Wayne County (pre-op) and The Slits (all of whom provide music to flesh out Brian Eno's score) as well as Jarman's muse Jordan, it's also an incredibly parochial film. As touching as it is tortured, "Jubilee" is a romantic representation of how Jarman's clique viewed themselves.

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