Blu-ray Review: Derek Jarman’s THE GARDEN

Derek Jarman’s 1990 avant-garde epic, The Garden, has been released on Blu-ray by way of Kino Lorber and Zeitgeist Films.

The Garden is one of the last films that artist Derek Jarman created before he passed away from AIDS in 1993. It is a tapestry of different images and vignettes – most of them religious in nature – centering on the capture and persecution of an angelic gay couple in a “garden of Eden” type setting. Jarman utilizes 8 and 16mm film, as well as video, to comment on his opposition to Section 28 and other backwards conservative attitudes of the time. Jarman was very near the end when he decided to take on this project, and so this is a bittersweet and angry experience in which moments of almost Malickian beauty are followed by prolonged scenes of disgusting cruelty.

Many scenes were filmed on Jarman’s garden property, a gorgeous stretch of land that compliments the Biblical images, despite the presence of a nuclear power station that looms in the background.

The Garden is a difficult piece that is not without notes of grace. It ends on one such note, as Jarman reads aloud an elegy to friends who have gone before him. Next would come his swan song, Blue.

Stars Tilda Swinton and Michael Gough.

Kino and Zeitgeist have put together a lovely package for The Garden, featuring interviews with crew members, a trailer, and an audio commentary.

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