Derek Jarman (January 31, 1942 – February 19, 1994), writer, artist, set designer, film-maker and gardener, was a modern day Renaissance man – a polymath who has created a formidable and enduring body of work.
His books range from film scripts, screenplays and scenarios, to prose poems, diaries, journals, and even a study of his Dungeness garden in text and photographs.
Here is a list of his books:
Dancing Ledge (journal/autobiography)
A Finger in the Fishes Mouth (poetry)
Modern Nature (/journal/diary)
Smiling In Slow Motion (journal/diary)
The Last of England (aka Kicking the Pricks) (film scenario)
Chroma (prose poem)
Up in the Air (screenplay)
War Requiem (screenplay)
Queer Edward II (screenplay)
Derek Jarman’s Garden (Illustrated Journal)
At Your Own Risk (Journal/Diary)
As a film-maker Derek Jarman made challenging, provocative and utterly beautiful films.
Here is a list of his full-length films:
The Tempest (1977)
The Angelic Conversation (1985)
The Last of England (1988)
War Requiem (1989)
The Garden (1990)
Edward II (1991)
Derek Jarman’s art is striking and powerful, as can be seen from these paintings of his:
He successfully used his visual artistry to set design Ken Russell’s The Devils, Savage Messiah, and The Rake’s Progress.
He also designed his wonderful stone, metal, wood and shingle garden at his cottage in Dungeness.
Derek Jarman campaigned tirelessly for gay rights, and then after being diagnosed with AIDS, he chronicled his illness in three of his books, and spoke out publicly about it in an effort to help others suffering from the same terrible virus.
I have an enormous amount of respect and admiration for Derek Jarman. He was a true artist and he did not waver in his course. He took artistic risks and they paid off. He had more talent than most ever have. He worked hard to produce a vast body of work in a variety of media: films, music videos, paintings, drawings, books, and his garden. When others stated how difficult it was to produce, write or direct films in the UK, Derek Jarman went out with cameras, crew and actors and simply made his films.
His twelfth and final film – and last testament – was Blue, which was released just four months before his death from AIDS-related complications. Such complications had rendered him partially blind by the time the film was released.
Blue consists of a single shot of saturated blue colour filling the screen, as background to a soundtrack where Jarman’s and some of his favourite actors’ narration describes his life and vision.
Blue ends with the words:
No one will remember our work
Our life will pass like the traces of a cloud
And be scattered like
Mist that is chased by the
Rays of the sun
For our time is the passing of a shadow
And our lives will run like
Sparks through the stubble. I place a delphinium,
Blue, upon your grave
© R J Dent (2010)