Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wednesday Artist: Derek Jarman & 'Blue'

Recently I had occasion to watch the dramatic Blue (1993), the last of a dozen films made by Derek Jarman (1942-1994), an English director who died of AIDS. In English, with English subtitles, the 75-minute film, set in its entirety as words against a blue frame, was inspired by the famous Yves Klein painting, IKB 79 (1959), which Jarman saw at Tate Gallery in London. Jarman began making the film as he was losing his eyesight, as various subtitles reference, and his medication had the effect of rendering in blue what he was still able to see.

The subtitles are voiced by Tilda Swinton and other actors, and sometimes by Jarman as well, and include a mix of poetry and prose that describes, interprets, and reflects on the color "blue". To this viewer, the film is provocative, mesmerizing, brooding, grief-filled, joyous, foreboding, and, ultimately, a highly personal and creative coming to terms with both life and death. 

Below is Part 1 of Blue; the remaining parts on YouTube are listed after it. (Originally in 35mm, the film was transferred to digital media.) Simon Fisher Turner contributed the soundtrack, which includes choral singing, clock-ticking, chimes, gongs, and work by a range of composers, from Erik Satie to Brian Eno. (An interesting post on the conception and making of the film is the article "Simon Fisher Turner on Derek Jarman's Blue" at The Quietus (February 18, 2014).)

Blue Part 2

Blue Part 3

Blue Part 4

Blue Part 5

Blue Part 6

Blue Part 7

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