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 This impassioned and reflective final volume in the late avant-garde filmmaker's diaries articulately mixes personal recollections, travelogues, and interviews, plus a few fantastic vignettes thrown in. Written during the making of Jarman's apocalyptic antipatriotic film The Last of England, the journal more or less anchors itself on that work-in-progress, in contrast to the color schemes of Chroma (1995), the previous volume of diaries. This book shares much of the same subject matter with its predecessors: Jarman's esthetic perspective and artistic training as a painter, his struggle with his sexual identity and escapades during the sexual revolution, his opinions on the British cinema world and its reactions to his controversial films Caravaggio, The Tempest, et al. Filming The Last of England supplies this book with not only a thematic focus but also a sense of immediacy, as Jarman works out his film vision of an Albion wrecked by its own imperial identity. Unpacking the film's literary and visual allusions, he succinctly describes it as ``a dream allegory [where] the poet wakes in a visionary landscape.'' The most striking feature of the journal, however, is Jarman's bitter yet ruefully sympathetic portrait of his domineering father--``the classic fag's father''--a WW II bomb- squadron leader who embodies much of what his son detests in the English establishment and the military mentality. A keen amateur moviemaker, RAF officer Jarman took films of his bombing runs as well as his family during the war, which wound up in The Last of England as both nostalgia and ironic counterpoint. In a sense, Jarman points out, his father was equally betrayed by his country: Emigrating from New Zealand, he had to become more British than the British and fought an exhausting war only to go adrift in contemporary England. The rich, raw, kaleidoscopic finale of a personal and artistic statement. (100 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-87951-697-6
Page count: 300pp
Publisher: Overlook
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1996


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NonfictionDANCING LEDGE by Derek Jarman
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