Derek Jarman's Jubilee is one of the most original, bold, and exciting features to have come out of Britain in the 1970s.
Derek Jarman’s Jubilee is one of the most original, bold, and exciting features to have come out of Britain in the 1970s.
The year is 1578. Queen Elizabeth I is transported by an angel into the future (roughly the present), where she has ‘the shadow of the time’ revealed to her.
Observing a renegade women’s collective (a pyromaniac, a punk star, a nympho, a bent historian, etc), Her Majesty watches as the ‘ladies’ and their friends go about their picaresque misadventures – disrupting a cafe, a punk audition, a murder spree.
Through this process of disemboweling the present through the memory of the past and the anticipation of the future, Jarman unravels the nation’s social history in a way that other features haven’t even attempted.
At times, amidst the story’s violence (there are two vicious killings), black humor, and loose fire hose energy, the film – like the characters – seems to careen out of control.
Toyah Wilcox, as an over-the-edge firebug, gives the film’s finest performance, Jenny Runacre, in a demanding dual role as Elizabeth I and the leader of the collective, is marvelous. And Orlando, as the world-owning impresario Borgia Ginz, steals every scene he’s in.