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Cassie Burton – Early Modern Drama – 3 March 2014.

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1 Cassie Burton – Early Modern Drama – 3 March 2014

2  He was born Michael Derek Elworthy Jarman.  He was born in Northwood, London, England on 31 January  He had one sister.  He had a tense relationship with his father that improved over time.

3  Jarman did not have the greatest relationship with his father, Lance Jarman, an RAF bomber pilot. He was much closer to his mother.  He says his father is why he developed an aversion to authority; many of Jarman’s films feature authority figures in a negative light.  Jarman worked on his relationship with his father over the course of his life. It was in the late 1980s when they began to connect more, especially since the 1980s were when many gays were openly castigated because of the increasing amount of AIDS phobia.

4  Jarman had many different talents including painting, filmmaking, set-designing, gardening, and directing.  He was accepted in 1960 to go to Slade School of Art, but his father wanted him to get a more proper qualification first. Jarman went to King’s College, London instead for English, History, and History of Art.  In At Your Own Risk: A Saint’s Testament, Jarman said he used his education to help come to terms with his homosexuality by looking for historical gay figures.  He graduated from King’s in 1963 and finally filled his place at Slade’s.

5  At Slade’s, he came to terms with his sexuality. It affected his art because while studying painting and theatre design, he also was enrolled in a filmmakers history class.  It was at Slade’s that he first saw great European filmmakers as well as American avant-garde film screenings.  This was possibly the most influential aspect of his education as Jarman’s own films fall between the two categories of European-style art cinema and avant-garde.

6  He became a theatre designer right out of school, designing for cinema for the first time for Ken Russell’s The Devils in 1971 and Savage Messiah in  Also in the early 1970s, Jarman began also working making short films experimenting with different art forms on Super- 8 cameras. He used Super-8s throughout his life even as he made larger feature-films, sometimes putting parts or whole Super 8 films into them.  Jarman began to direct.

7  His major Super 8 films include The Art of Mirrors and In the Shadow of the Sun.  His first feature film was Sebastiane, which broke house records at The Gate in Notting Hill. Other notable works include Caravaggio, Jubilee, The Tempest, The Garden and Edward II before his final work Blue.

8  Jarman became very politically active and was one of the most openly gay filmmakers in British history.  Much of his political activism came from the large anti-gay sentiments during his lifetime.  Many of his films included homo-eroticism and homosexuality, particularly controversial since they were in traditional stories like Caravaggio and Edward II.  He did this on purpose to fight for his cause.  Fighting for his cause also made him more in-tune with his parents especially his father, who disagreed with the treatment of gays sparked from the AIDS epidemic.

9  Jarman was diagnosed with AIDS in His homosexuality had spurred many of his creative efforts and his HIV positive status did the same. The film Blue is shot through a blue lense, correlating with Jarman’s own blindness that arose from complications of the disease.  Jarman died in London on 19 February, 1994 from complications arising from AIDS.

10  Edward II, as we examined in the article sent from Prof. Belschner, is one such work where Jarman furthers the homosexual faction. Here Jarman examines Edward and Gaveston’s relationship through political ramifications, namely turning it into a segment of the gay rights movement.  It can be seen in the way that all characters in the film are extremely flawed and perhaps crueler than they are in Marlowe’s play. They use their sexuality, whether it is homo or hetero, to form a political faction aimed at gaining power for their own personal pleasure. Public welfare is notably absent in their concerns, a parallel to the political scene that Jarman faced.

11  Cardullo, Bert. “ ‘Outing’ Edward, Outfitting Marlowe: Derek Jarman’s Film of Edward II.” Literature Film Quarterly 37.2 (2009): Academic Search Premier. Web. 2 March  Hoyle, Brian. “Derek Jarman: Radical Traditionalist.” Sense of Cinema. Film Victoria Australia, May Web. 2 March  “Jarman, Derek.” Screen Online. British Film Institute, n.d. Web. 2 March 2014.


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