Derek Winnert


This article was written on 12 May 2016, and is filled under Reviews.

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The Garden **** (1990, Tilda Swinton, Johnny Mills, Philip MacDonald, Roger Cook, Spencer Leigh, Vernon Dobtcheff, Michael Gough, Jack Birkett) – Classic Movie Review 3704


The much missed British gay film-maker Derek Jarman contemplates his life and times in the garden of his own bleakly beautiful seaside home in Dungeness, Kent, while he dreams of events in the life of Christ and of other gardens – Eden and Gethsemane. It is a drama, or rather two stories plus a couple of minor ones, told visually, with virtually no dialogue.


Jarman creates a brave and provocative film, improvised by the actors  – Tilda Swinton as the Madonna, Roger Cook as Christ, Spencer Leigh as Mary Magdalene and Adam, Pete Lee-Wilson as the Devil, Philip MacDonald as Joseph, Johnny Mills, Kevin Collins, Vernon Dobtcheff, Michael Gough and Jack Birkett. It is both a rich tapestry of painterly images and striking sounds, and an eye-opening journey of moods and feelings all the way from horror to humour.

Through it all Jarman speaks clearly and persuasively of his own opinions and sensibilities, and speaks out strongly on the gay injustices he sees.

Derek Jarman died on February 19, 1994 in London age 52 of complications from AIDS. His last words were: ‘I want the world to be filled with white fluffy duckies.’ He was made a gay saint as well as a Fellow of the British Film Institute in recognition of his outstanding contribution to film culture.

© Derek Winnert 2016 Classic Movie Review 3704

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