Super 8mm film was Derek Jarman’s primary medium in the 70s, but by the end of the decade Jarman had almost stopped screening his S8mm films as he was acutely aware of their fragility.
This programme of Super 8 shorts is taken from the Derek Jarman Super 8 Archive, which comprises all the personal film work that Jarman made between 1970 and 1983 and contains over 80 individual titles which were filmed and edited by Jarman himself.
Films in the programme are:
Filmed in and around Jarman’s studio (now demolished) on the Thames at Bankside, London SE1 and featuring various friends, this is Jarman’s first film. Edited in camera it is in two parts, a colour section filmed inside the studio and a black and white section filmed in the area around the studio, the reels spliced together to make one continuous film. The soundtrack by Coil was added later in 2005.
Journey to Avebury
Filmed through a yellow filter and edited in camera, this film – an exploration of the landscape and great stone circle at Avebury – exists in a longer and a shorter version. The shortening was accomplished by cutting out a long travelling sequence that takes up the first half of the original film. This version, preferred by Jarman, has a later soundtrack composed by Coil.
Christopher Hobbs and Gerald Incandela feature in this narrative short filmed in a bed sitting room in Islington and in the empty space next to the Butler’s Wharf warehouse on the Thames that became Jarman’s “back lot” used in many of the films. Costumes and props by Christopher Hobbs. The music, by Cyclobe, was composed for and originally performed at Meltdown, London, 2012.
Along with In the Shadow of the Sun, this film is the culmination of a series of works collectively titled Art of Mirrors. Filmed in and around Butler’s Wharf, Sulphur features performances by Gerald Incandela, Graham Dowie, Christopher Hobbs, Derek Jarman, Luciana Martinez and Kevin Whitney. As with Tarot, the music, by Cyclobe, was composed for Meltdown in 2012.
A film by Derek Jarman and Guy Ford recording life in Anthony Harwood’s Sloan Square apartment, where Jarman lived during the period that he made Sebastiane. Long sequences in stop frame pixilation animate the interior. The middle part is a “removal party” held when Jarman was finally evicted. Anarchy rules. Featuring Alasdair McGaw and Graham Cracker amongst others. The soundtrack, Simon Fisher Turner’s first, was composed in 1984 for a series of screenings at the ICA in London.
Filmed in Sardinia during a break in the shooting of Sebastiane. Jarman points his camera into a sheet of Mylar, which acts as a partial mirror. Made in a single take, Sebastian Wrap is typical of the style of filming that Jarman adopted in this period and marks a shift from costume and set to a more freeform hand-held approach.
Waiting for Waiting for Godot
One of the last films that Jarman shot and edited on Super 8, this work was filmed at a rehearsal for a RADA student performance of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. Jarman restricts his filming to a monitor screen that was part of the in-house recording of the play. Although he utilises a slow filming speed and the image is somewhat obscured and blurred, it is still recognisable as Beckett’s play. This hybridisation of film and video would mark Jarman’s work of the period in such films as Imagining October and The Last of England.
Produced for the 1984 London Film Festival, Imagining October is a dreamlike meditation on art and politics in the final years of the Cold War. Jarman recorded the film’s haunting images while on a trip to Moscow, where he managed to capture a side of pre-Perestroika Russia rarely seen by Western filmmakers.
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