Derek Jarman

(1942—1994) film-maker, painter, and campaigner for homosexual rights

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(1942–94) Painter, writer, and film-maker, who became a ‘queer’ activist following his own HIV diagnosis in 1986. After studying literature and painting at London University, Jarman's first career was in set design for ballet and opera, which led to design for Ken Russell's films The Devils (1971) and Savage Messiah (1972). Subsequently, although continuing to exhibit as a painter, most of his work was in film, often shot informally in 8 mm. His first feature, Sebastiane (1976), with subtitled Latin dialogue and overt homosexuality, created a sensation, as did Jubilee (1977), a dystopian punk view of contemporary England. Two Shakespeare films, The Tempest (1979) and a dramatization of Shakespeare's sonnets in The Angelic Conversation (1985), combined Jarman's literary interests with his acute sense of contemporary style, while Caravaggio (1986) and Wittgenstein (1993) portrayed the painter and the philosopher as gay heroes. In addition to published diaries, there is a compendious biography by Tony Peake (1999).

From The Oxford Companion to English Literature in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.

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