The Sunday Cult Film Corner: “Jubilee (1978)”

15 Apr

Ahhh what a day. After the black dog of the last 48 hours, things have been moving onwards. Articles and blog posts have been written. And we’ve just had some lovely Indian spice tinged lamb flesh of the highest order.

Yes i am a rather content right now. And to top it all off, a true UBER cult classic has made itself available on YouTube for our viewing please. A truly visionary film from Britain’s true cult director of our times, Derek Jarman. Ladies and Gentlemen, i give to you, JUBILEE.

Directed in 1978, Jubilee beings in Elizabethan England. Queen Elizabeth (Jenny Runacre) wants to acquire knowledge of the future, so is transported by her court mysticist John Dee, to the UK of the 1970s. Here she is presented with a truly hellish post-punk apocalyptic wasteland. Society has crumbled and what remains is in a state of utter decay with police death squads, everything on fire and falling down, while kids murder people out of boredom.. As she moves through this desolate world, she observes the bored, nihilistic actions of a host of characters with names such as Amyl Nitrate, Crab, Mas and Chaos.

Man this film…. I remember seeing it when i was 13 years old (thanks again Channel 4) and it was one of those films that leaves its mark on impressionable youths such as myself. you can truly say they don’t make films like this any more.

Jubilee is seen by many as a “Punk film”, mostly due to the fact that  it contained numerous characters from the punk scene at that time Jordan (a Malcolm McLaren protégé), Toyah Willcox, Nell Campbell, Adam Ant, Demoriane and Wayne County, contained performances by Wayne County and Adam and the Ants, and had cameo appearances by The Slits and Siouxsie and the Banshees. Oh and there was a score by Brian Eno.

But it’s not quite a clear-cut as that. Derek Jarman was more of a member of the avant-garde film scene and wasn’t part of the punk scene. “Jubilee” was also heavily criticised by members of the punk community, such as Vivienne Westwood, for not giving a true representation of punk.

But criticisms aside, this is a film that while not catching the spirit or punk, truly captures the desolate nature that was living in the UK in the late ’70s. Back then, people truly felt that the country was going to hell in a handcart. Rubbish everywhere, graffiti, strikes, far rights gangs, along the rumours that the military was going to instigate an actual coup, the film portrays London and the Thames estuary with that grim, dystopian feel that reminds me somewhat of the totalitarian London portrayed in Alan Moore’s “V For Vendetta”. While some of the film has a staged, episodic feel (which allows the characters to give their numerous monologues), there are some truly outstanding scenes aided by the naturalistic lighting and camerawork, such as the Rule Britannia moment, or the gardener in the suburbs who tends to his plastic pot plants.

I don’t know how long this film will stay up (the last upload was definitely taken down), but if you feel that there is no future in anything, and that life is only worth for destroying, then get you booze and Mandrax laid out, and smash up your living room while this blares i the background….

1 Comment

Posted by on April 15, 2012 in Film


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One response to “The Sunday Cult Film Corner: “Jubilee (1978)”

  1. Jon

    April 16, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    Awesome film, still have it on VHS somewhere, must have seen it dozens of times. Adam Ant looks great in this.


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