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THE ANGELIC CONVERSATION

UK, 1985 (MIFF 1985)

Director: Derek Jarman

Derek Jarman is best known in Australia for his more "mainstream" features (Sebastiane, Jubilee, and The Tempest) and as production designer on Ken Russell's Savage Messiah and The Devils. He has also worked extensively as a painter, stage designer, and producer of more experimental works (often originally shot on Super 8), including In The Shadow of the Sun which won the Silver Boomerang at the 1381 Melbourne Film Festival.

The Angelic Conversation is a fusion of many of Jarman's interests, and a clear demonstration of his ability to realise an ambitious project on limited cash resources. It also shows Jarman's fondness for films that grow organically. Shooting began, he explains, as a series of visual experiments, "filming people I like in places and spaces I like" (the places here are Dancing Ledge on the Dorset coast, and the Isle of Grain in the Thames Estuary). When funds were made available from the British Film Institute, it gave him the possibility of developing from this material a project he had long planned - a setting for a group of Shakespearean sonnets.

The original Super 8 material, which had been filmed at 3 frames per second, was first recorded on U-matic video for editing and later transferred directly to 35mm film stock. This allowed Jarman maximum control of the imagery and each composition is singularly arresting in its use of design elements, the subtlety acquired through the balance of light and shadow, and the often elusive application of colour.

There is no narrative- the film working indirectly through suggestions and allusions, as ambivalent as the sonnets themselves. At first sight the film is characterised by a system of repetition, but he Angelic Conversation never succumbs to monotony. The repetitions, one soon realises, are variations that serve to concentrate the attention and heighten the significance of small gestures: young men peer through windows, clamber over rocky terrain and anoint themselves with water and kisses. The climactic homo-erotic love scene achieves powerful effect just through chaste and tender touching and twining of hands.

See also...

The Queen is Dead

A new music film from virtuoso director Derek Jarman. ... More »

THE LAST OF ENGLAND

Shot during the summer and autumn of "last year", this mesmerising trip into contemporary Britain's apocalyptic non future presents what is possibly filmmaker Jarman's most personal film to date ... More »

T.G. Psychic Rally in Heaven

T. G. Psychic Rally in Heaven marries abstract images of a performance by Throbbing Gristle with the ferocity and intensity of their music to brilliant effect on both eyes and ears. ... More »

WITTGENSTEIN

Jarman has once again created a lush and visually stunning canvas, that explores the life and key ideologies of one of this century's most influential philosophers, Ludwig Wittgenstein. This latest ... More »

IN THE SHADOW OF THE SUN

Set designer, art director and maker of the highly successful Sebastiane. Jubilee and The Tempest. Derek Jarman has recently returned to Super 8 to produce his new films. Using a combination of old ... More »

THE GARDEN

Like all of writer-director Derek Jarman's previous films, The Garden is an innovative and controversial piece of work; provocative, sensual, and highly original in its play of image and sound. ... More »

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