Although widely respected, Derek Jarman could probably best be described as an underground film-maker, having only had a brief foray into the limelight with 1978’s beautiful but poignant Jubilee and maybe Caravaggio from 1986. Although the former is one of my personal favourites, I have never felt the need to delve deeper into his oeuvre which may alternatively be wise (not taking anything away from a film I love) or simply my loss.
Collections of film stills have always seemed to me something for the specialist, maybe even mainly for the completeist, comprising as they tend to, less-than-sharp images that can often have the appearance of a filleted flick-book. There’s no doubting the provenance, the serious intent or the authority of this collection of stills from Jarman’s many short Super8 films, along with essays about them. It also provides access to a collection of work which, while not completely unobtainable, does require a bit of work to assemble.
As I said, I think this is one for the specialists and I’m not one of those. I can admire the book and I tend to agree with the blurb’s assertion that “The transient images, isolated like paintings, are the essence of Derek Jarman and the visual vocabulary of a great artist”, even if it does sound like special pleading by a book that knows that film stills are a hard sell.
Click the picture to view on Amazon