DANCING LEDGE by Derek Jarman


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 Reconstructed memoir of ``my Queerlife'' of the 1970's that's a companion volume to British filmmaker Jarman's At Your Own Risk (1992), which told of his first five decades as well as of his thoughts since testing HIV-positive five years ago. This new book seems to be a faintly updated reprint of diarylike entries published in Britain ten years ago. The leap-about entries recount the gay old pre-AIDS days, during which Jarman nonetheless detested the bourgeois qualities of early gay lib. Occasionally, he climbs off the financial rocks and tries to put together a better script for, and to begin the filming of, his long-delayed Caravaggio, and we get much about Caravaggio as a gay artist (as deduced from his paintings) as well as about Jarman's films-to-be, Sebastiane and Jubilee. Meanwhile, the author's script for The Tempest is funded and goes forward. Entries tend to be ordered more by theme than chronology (they can jump from 1953 to 1984) and feature comments on many famous gays, such as William Burroughs and Pier Paolo Pasolini, whom Jarman clearly sees as heroes (although he often takes issue with Pasolini's lifestyle and sometimes with his films). Retold are Jarman's days at Pinewood Studios when Ken Russell hires him to design The Devils, for which Jarman builds the biggest set since Cleopatra- -until the Hollywood mafia trims it to interiors only. Later, Jarman designs Russell's The Savage Messiah and is driven half-mad faking statues by sculptor Gaudier Brzeska. Many excellent pages, many grandly impolite (if less hostile than At Your Own Risk). (Eighty-eight b&w photographs, including shots of male nudes at low ebb)

Pub Date: July 12th, 1993
ISBN: 0-87951-493-0
Page count: 254pp
Publisher: Overlook
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1993


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