UK, 1993 (MIFF 1994, Documentaries)
Director: Derek Jarman
Challenging British director Derek Jarman's final major work has been compared in visual execution to Warhol's Sleep and Empire State. Where it outstrips them both is in the meticulously crafted and impressionistic soundtrack. An amazing aural cut up of voices, Jarman's amongst them, supplemented and punctuated by sound collage and glorious music, this combination of monologue and prose poem is woven together to a lyrical, almost song-like effect. It is this rich soundscape that accompanies the 76 minutes of luminous Technicolor blue! Over the duration of the film the single enveloping colour makes of the frame a combination of canvas, mindscreen and eye. Influenced by the work of French monochromatic painter Yves Klein, Blue is absolutely true to its name, reflecting on the colour and all its connotations: silence, subjectivity and suffering.
There are musings on art and infinity, meditations on life and approaching death, dealing with the director's deterioration in the final stages of Aids; and sound-trips to far off times and places. Deeply personal and sometimes grimly humorous and disturbing, the film doesn't so much move forward as swell around you. Jarman's painful punchlines prevent the work from descending into despair, prompting admiration when slipping in quips like, "the Buddha instructs me to walk away from illness, but he was never attached to a drip."
By fleeing what it calls "the pandemonium of images", offering only the blue screen on which spectators project their own image, we learn to stop looking and start listening instead. With his cinema of love, his cinema of limits, blue is the colour of all of Jarman's passions. It is also the colour of mortality.
"Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying
of the good light."
- Dylan Thomas