'There Must Be an Alternative': Disjointed Time & Defiant Deviance in the Films of Derek Jarman
Derek Jarman used cinema as a tool of political subversion during an era of Thatcherite repression. His re-interpretations of history and dystopic visions of the present, as well as his insistence on the worth and validity of queer lives, ran directly counter to the hostile, homogenizing forces of New Right Conservatism. He was able to achieve this through a radical re-imagination of how time and history can be represented onscreen.
Throughout his wide-ranging oeuvre, Jarman played the role of time-traveler, knocking time out of joint to examine the echoes between disparate eras. While he is often described as an iconoclast, contemporary criticism of his work tends to attribute that rebellious spirit to the more graphic, erotic, or provocative imagery in his films. Of course, those scraps of dissent are surprising and often challenging, but the kernel of his defiance lies in his experimental treatment of time. At the core of this thesis is the argument that Jarman’s disregard for the linear timeline was his boldest iconoclasm.
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