Derek Jarman’s rarely seen experimental short film, Imagining October, is a dreamlike meditation on art and politics in the final years of the Cold War. It was produced for the London Film Festival in 1984, the same year that Jarman was invited with a group of British filmmakers to visit Moscow, where he presented his film, The Tempest. Throughout the trip Jarman furtively wandered off into the streets of Moscow to shoot footage of the city with his Super-8 camera. His gritty, haunting images document fleeting moments of pre-Perestroika Russia very seldom recorded by Western filmmakers at the time.
Jarman’s experience of Moscow prompted him to reflect on the politics of both the Soviet state and Thatcherite Britain. Consequently he combined his Super-8 footage with a series of charged slogans that anticipate the political engagement of his subsequent work. Set against a score of music by Benjamin Britten and a commissioned soundtrack for the film by Genesis P-Orridge and David Ball, the film also includes staged scenes of Russian soldiers played by actors, including the painter Peter Doig.
Derek Jarman (January 31, 1942- February 19, 1994), British film director, artist, and writer.
Jarman’s first films were experimental super 8mm shorts, a form he never entirely abandoned, and later developed further (in his films Imagining October (1984), The Angelic Conversation (1985), The Last Of England (1987) and The Garden (1990)) as a parallel to his narrative work.
Jarman made his debut in “overground” narrative filmmaking with the groundbreaking Sebastiane (1976), arguably the first British film to feature positive images of gay sexuality, and the first (and to date, only) film entirely in Latin. He follwed this with the film many regard as his first masterpiece, Jubilee (shot 1977, released 1978), in which Queen Elizabeth I of England is transported forward in time to a desolate and brutal wasteland ruled by her twentieth century namesake. Jubilee was arguably the first UK punk movie, and amongst its cast featured punk groups and figures such as Wayne County… read more