Review: ‘The Last of England’

The Last of England has the rare ability to envelop one in its swirling images and bleak comedy one moment, and send a viewer off to sleep the next.

The Last of England has the rare ability to envelop one in its swirling images and bleak comedy one moment, and send a viewer off to sleep the next.

Following the avant-garde helmer’s most accessible film to date, the 1986 Caravaggio, he returns with a blatantly personal vision which combines documentary-style footage of ruined streets, home movies, and a segment with glimpses of a screen story. All is filmed and linked abstractly, but without the glimmer of plot or narrative line.

The Last of England is a self-indulgent number, opening with an actor (Spring) kicking and abusing a Caravaggio painting, ‘Profane Love’, and proceeding with a tirade of images of urban destruction and deprived youth. Interspersed are extracts from the Jarman family’s home movies, which make an interesting contrast to the abrasive images with their views of colonial and RAF life.

The Last of England

UK - W. Germany

Production

British Screen/Film Four/ZDF/Anglo-Internationa. Director Derek Jarman; Producer James Mackay, Don Boyd; Screenplay [uncredited]; Camera Derek Jarman, Christopher Hughes, Cerith Wyn Evans, Richard Heslop; Editor Peter Cartwright, Angus Cook, Sally Yeadon, John Maybury; Music Simon Turner, Andy Gill, Mayo Thompson, Albert Oehlen, Barry Adamson, El Tito; Art Director Christopher Hobbs

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1987. Running time: 87 MIN.

With

Tilda Swinton Spencer Leigh Spring Gay Gaynor Matthew Hawkins Gerard McArthur
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