I remember sobbing to myself as I watched “Blue” for the first time – Derek Jarman’s final film before dying of AIDS exactly 20 years ago today. His life – including its recent complications from having AIDS – is portrayed via voice and music over a 79-minute shot of an unchanging blue screen, with his muse Tilda Swinton one of its narrators. It was a remarkably powerful experience to have as an 18 year old, one that gave me a wholly different idea of both what it meant to be an artist, what it meant to be a human and what it meant to have AIDS.
“Blue” came at the end of 15 years of feature filmmaking for Jarman, including true queer classics like “Sebastiane,” “Caravaggio” and “Edward II.” But if you’re unfamiliar with his work at all, do yourself a big favor and make today a timely introduction. You can watch “Blue” below over a series of YouTube clips, and all almost all of his films here via Fandor (which is a wonderful site well worth the $10/month cost) or if you’re in the UK a half dozen of them on the BFI’s website. Also notable for those in London, tonight the London Review Bookshop is hosting a launch event for a facsimile edition of Jarman’s only poetry collection. More info on that here.
Whatever you do, whatever your relationship is and was with Jarman’s work, do try and take a moment today to commemorate him in some little way.