Close Up

29 September 2019: Blue


Derek Jarman, 1993, 112 min

"Derek Jarman's Blue is a rhapsodic hymn to love, dedicated to "all true lovers"...It is also a work at the outer limits of cinematic expression: seventy-six minutes of luminous blue screen complemented by a meticulously recorded soundtrack featuring music recorded at Brian Eno's studio and lyrical and autobiographical text read by Nigel Terry, Tilda Swinton and, at one unforgettable moment, by Jarman himself. At first sight Blue would seem an idiosyncratic film, an extreme work of art prompted by a terrible affliction: Jarman's own confrontation with blindness in the course of his treatment for AIDS. However, by fleeing what the film calls "the pandemonium of the image" Blue raises questions of visibility and invisibility, of sound and vision, which are central not only to AIDS and homosexuality, but to cinema itself…Switching between politics and metaphysics, Blue serves as a vital link between activism and abstraction. With his cinema of love, his cinema of limits, Jarman's triumph is to have projected this vision with uncompromising clarity and brilliance." – Paul Julian Smith

Part of our season on Derek Jarman