Punk rebellion combined with the juxtaposition of royal mystical ambience is what makes this film rather strange yet special at the same time. Derek Jarman depicts a rather fantastical manic portrayal which harmoniously emphasises the dramatic change of youth movement within the 1970’s era of Britain. Reminiscing about an era that consisted of musical experimentation and expression, politically related strike movements desired to instill change, as well as many more radical shifts.

1978’s Jubilee can be seen to evoke reminders of such harsh social realist issues nonetheless at the same time remaining as an artistic theatrical piece that works effectively in producing an experimental image to highlight such extremity.  Serving as a representation of 70’s Britain, Jubilee steers away from the original film footage style of having a simplistic narrative to following a more distinguished Jarman style of using a film as a tool to express. Even the title itself emphasises the giant juxtaposition of the narrative, how the word ‘Jubilee’ comes as a sign of mockery against the Queen and her loyal subjects as the punks govern the narrative.

A film consisting of punk fights, magical time-traveling, punk rebellion songs, expressions of dance and costumes that signify zest from both sides of the spectrum – this film works potentially as an ‘art’ film, artistic to some yet strange and outrageous to others. Director of Blue (1993), The Tempest (1979), Caravaggio (1986) and many more – the audience can witness how Jarman’s style of exploring the extraordinary comes into play and how Jarman represents reality through forms of the mystical, with balances of comedy, sexual play, and music to restore balance. Seen within the representation of Queen Elizabeth I (Jenny Runacre), her sidekick of magic Dr. John Dee (Richard O’Brien) and the mystical angelic figure Ariel (David Brandon) balanced with the punk rebels represented within the film.

Quotes such as ‘Do you know any real heroes?’ and ‘I wanted to defy gravity’ by Amyl Nitrate (Pamela Rooke) as well as ‘As long as the music’s loud enough, we won’t hear the world falling apart’ by Borgia Ginz (Jack Birkett) all play an important role in depicting the essence of the film and instil the hidden questions and motives that float the experimental generation of the 70’s. The audience even gets a mention of Myra Hindley and how in retrospect she could possibly be a role model- pointing out the wide shift of generational extreme thinking. We have here the juxtaposition of punk warfare vs strict order from the very opening of the film- but will the pearls of resistance or the pearls of royalty win this tale?

With music played by Adam Ant, Suzi Pinns and more, Jubilee acts as a punk film- whether liked or not.

Dir:  Derek Jarman

Scr: Derek Jarman

Cast Jenny Runacre, Nell Campbell, Toyah Willcox, Adam Ant, Ian Charleson, Hermine Demoriane, Richard O’Brien

Prd: Howard Malin, James Whaley

DOP: Peter Middleton

Music: Adam Ant, Jayne County, Brian Eno, Suzi Pinns

Country: UK

Year: 1978

Runtime: 106 mins

Jubilee is available in a Dual Format Edition now.


By Natalia Santos

Mise en scene enthusiast. Fan of anything art related, bizarre antidotes and extraordinary tendencies.