Jubilee (1978 film)
|Directed by||Derek Jarman|
|Produced by||Howard Malin
|Written by||Derek Jarman
Siouxsie and the Banshees
|Edited by||Nick Barnard
|February 1978 (UK)
September 1979 (USA)
|Budget||£50,000 or £200,000|
Jubilee is a 1978 cult film directed by Derek Jarman. It stars Jenny Runacre, Ian Charleson, and a host of punk rockers, including Adam Ant and Toyah. The title refers to the Silver Jubilee of Elizabeth II in 1977.
In Jubilee, Queen Elizabeth I (Jenny Runacre) is transported forward in time by the occultist John Dee (Richard O'Brien) through the spirit guide Ariel (a character from Shakespeare's The Tempest). Elizabeth arrives in the shattered Britain of the 1970s. Queen Elizabeth II is dead, killed in an arbitrary mugging, and Elizabeth I moves through the social and physical decay of the city observing the activities of a group of sporadic nihilists, including Amyl Nitrite (Jordan), Bod (Runacre in a dual role), Chaos (Hermine Demoriane), Crabs (Nell Campbell), and Mad (Toyah Willcox).
Numerous punk icons appear in the film including Jordan (a Malcolm McLaren protégé), Toyah Willcox, Nell Campbell, Adam Ant, Demoriane and Wayne County. It features performances by Wayne County and Adam and the Ants. There are also cameo appearances by The Slits and Siouxsie and the Banshees. The film was scored by Brian Eno. The uncredited piece of music used in the 'Jordan's Dance' scene was written by Ludwig Minkus in 1884 for Act I in the revived ballet 'Giselle'.
Beginning with a vignette of Elizabeth I and John Dee summoning The Tempest's Ariel, the action moves to an anarchic 1978, where law and order has broken down and punk gangs roam the streets, committing acts of murder and larceny. In one squat, Amyl Nitrate is instructing a group of young women about appropriate female behavior, which valorizes the violent criminal activity of Myra Hindley, before she reminisces about her time as a ballet dancer and introduces the audience to Mad, Crabs, Chaos, Sphinx and Angel (two incestuous bisexual brothers) and Bod, a virgin anarchist. Bod has just strangled and killed Elizabeth II and appropriated her crown. From there, the group move on to a café, where Mad attacks a waitress, and Bod contacts impresario Borgia Ginz. However, she is surprised to find Amyl performing a pastiche of Rule Britannia. Sphinx and Angel establish a relationship with Viv, a young former artist, who they take to meet an ex-soldier. Borgia Ginz is branching out into property management and has purchased "abandoned' properties like St Paul's Cathedral and Buckingham Palace, which are transformed into musical venues. Meanwhile, Mad, Bod and Crabs asphyxiate one of Crabs' one night stands and a fight breaks out at a disco session in a St. Pauls crypt. Violent police activity causes the death of Sphinx and Angel and two revenge attacks on police officers by Bod and Mad. Finally, Borgia Ginz takes the three women off to Dorset and signs a recording contract with them. Interspersed with these displays of contemporary anarchic violence, Dee, Ariel and Elizabeth try to interpret the signs of anarchic modernity around them, before they undertake a pastoral and nostalgic return to the sixteenth century at the film's end.
The film is heavily influenced by the 1970s punk aesthetic in its style and presentation. Shot in grainy colour, it is largely plotless and episodic. Location filming took advantage of London neighbourhoods that were economically depressed and/or still contained large amounts of rubble from the London Blitz.
- Jenny Runacre – Queen Elizabeth I / Bod
- Nell Campbell – Crabs (as Little Nell)
- Toyah Willcox – Mad
- Jordan – Amyl Nitrite
- Hermine Demoriane – Chaos
- Ian Charleson – Angel
- Karl Johnson – Sphinx
- Linda Spurrier - Viv
- Jack Birkett – Borgia Ginz (as Orlando)
- Jayne County – Lounge Lizard (as Wayne County)
- Richard O'Brien – John Dee
- Adam Ant – Kid
- Helen Wellington-Lloyd - Lady in waiting
- Claire Davenport – First Customs Lady
- Barney James – Policeman
- Lindsay Kemp – Cabaret performer
- Gene October – Happy Days
- Siouxsie Sioux – Herself
- Steven Severin – Himself
The film had many critics in British punk circles. Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood manufactured a T-shirt on which was printed an "open letter" to Jarman denouncing the film and his misrepresentations of punk. Jarman described the project as "a film about punk" during pre-production, but later explained that it had a much broader thematic scope. The film is now considered a cult classic, and was released by the Criterion Collection.
- Alexander Walker, National Heroes: British Cinema in the Seventies and Eighties, Harrap, 1985 p 235
- Walsh, John. "Cultivating his own plot." Sunday Times [London, England] 16 Dec. 1990: 2[S3]+. The Sunday Times Digital Archive. Web. 8 Apr. 2014.
- Jubilee DVD extras, production diary
- Jubilee at the Internet Movie Database
- Jubilee at AllMovie
- Julian Upton: Anarchy in the UK. Derek Jarman's 'Jubilee' revisited Bright Lights Film Journal, Issue 30, October 2000
- Criterion Collection essay by Tony Peake
- Criterion Collection essay by Tilda Swinton