The Angelic Conversation (film)

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The Angelic Conversation
Angelic conversation.jpg
DVD cover
Directed by Derek Jarman
Produced by James Mackay
Screenplay by Derek Jarman
Based on Shakespeare's sonnets
by William Shakespeare
Starring Paul Reynolds
Phillip Williamson
Narrated by Judi Dench
Music by Coil (with additional music by Benjamin Britten)
Cinematography Derek Jarman and James Mackay
Edited by Peter Cartwright
Derek Jarman
Cerith Wyn Evans
Release date
28 February 1987
Running time
78 min.
Country United Kingdom
Language English

The Angelic Conversation is a 1985 arthouse drama film directed by Derek Jarman. Its tone is set by the juxtaposition of slow moving photographic images and Shakespeare's sonnets read by Judi Dench. The film consists primarily of homoerotic images and opaque landscapes through which two men take a journey into their own desires.

Jarman himself described the film as "a dream world, a world of magic and ritual, yet there are images there of the burning cars and radar systems, which remind you there is a price to be paid in order to gain this dream in the face of a world of violence."[1]

The soundtrack to the film was composed and performed by Coil, and it was released as an album of the same name. In 2008 Peter Christopherson of Coil (with David Tibet, Othon Mataragas and Ernesto Tomasini) performed a new live soundtrack to the movie during a special screening at the Turin Lesbian and Gay Film Festival.

The film's music track also includes Benjamin Britten's "Sea Interludes" from Peter Grimes, performed by The Chorus and Orchestra of The Royal Opera House Covent Garden, conducted by Colin Davis.

Shakespeare's sonnets[edit]

14 sonnets the film features are:

Being your slave, what should I do but tend
Upon the hours and times of your desire?
Then hate me when thou wilt, if ever, now,
Now, while the world is bent my deeds to cross,
When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see,
For all the day they view things unrespected;
What is your substance, whereof are you made,
That millions of strange shadows on you tend?
O me, what eyes hath love put in my head,
Which have no correspondence with true sight!
O thou, my lovely boy, who in thy power
Dost hold Time's fickle glass, his sickle hour,
When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
They that have power to hurt and will do none,
That do not do the thing they most do show
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
Not marble nor the gilded monuments
Of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme,
Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
The dear repose for limbs with travel tired
Is it thy will, thy image should keep open
My heavy eyelids to the weary night?
Sweet love, renew thy force; be it not said
Thy edge should blunter be than appetite,
To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I ey'd

DVD release[edit]

The BFI have released The Angelic Conversation on DVD.



  1. ^ Jarman, Derek (1997). Kicking the pricks. ISBN 978-0-87951-844-8

External links[edit]