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Jubilee (The Criterion Collection)

3.6 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

When Queen Elizabeth I asks her court alchemist to show her England in the future, she’s transported 400 years to a post-apocalyptic wasteland of roving girl gangs, an all-powerful media mogul, fascistic police, scattered filth, and twisted sex. With Jubilee, legendary British filmmaker Derek Jarman channeled political dissent and artistic daring into a revolutionary blend of history and fantasy, musical and cinematic experimentation, satire and anger, fashion and philosophy. With its uninhibited punk petulance and sloganeering, Jubilee, brings together many cultural and musical icons of the time, including Jordan, Toyah Willcox, Little Nell, Wayne County, Adam Ant, and Brian Eno (with his first original film score), to create a genuinely unique, unforgettable vision. Ahead of its time and often frighteningly accurate in its predictions, it is a fascinating historical document and a gorgeous work of film art.


Avant-garde spirit and punk-rock attitude combine with iconoclastic results in Derek Jarman's defiantly uncommercial Jubilee. Filmed in 1977--the silver jubilee year of England's Queen Elizabeth II--this fascinating hodgepodge of political dissent and audiovisual experimentation now stands as a vibrant document of its time, both immediate and enduring in its bold rejection of all things conventional. (Compared to this, the quasi-punk Repo Man and angst-ridden Sid & Nancy seem positively tame.) Jarman's film deserved its mixed reviews; like the films of Andy Warhol, it's a slapdash affair, cobbled together by Jarman and his fringe-dwelling friends, ostensibly designed as a kaleidoscopic glimpse of London's future, infused with apocalyptic nihilism and populated by proto-punks (including Adam Ant and Rocky Horror's Little Nell) in an anarchic orgy of gay and straight sex, music, violence, and (in retrospect) astonishingly accurate pop-cultural prophesy. It's the pioneering, angry/funny work of a genuine artist, as essential to punk film as the Sex Pistols were to music in the dreadful days of disco. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

  • New high-definition digital transfer, supervised by director of photography Peter Middleton
  • Original documentary on Jarman and Jubiliee made by Jarman actor Spencer Leigh
  • Ephemera from Derek Jarman's personal collection
  • Liner notes by Jarman biographer Tony Peak and cultural historian Jon Savage

Product Details

  • Producers: Bill Gavin
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: June 1, 2010
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008RH14
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,091 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Jubilee (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Clark on June 23, 2003
Format: DVD
Jubilee is a wildly beautiful - and entertaining - film which strikes a precarious, and compelling, balance between sheer anarchy and genuine beauty. I was so struck by it that I watched it three times in one week. Yet it remains an elusive work, constantly tantalizing with new connections and still more layers of meaning. The outstanding Criterion Collection DVD offers a wealth of supplemental features, making it an excellent introduction to both the film and director Derek Jarman.
The basic plot of this experimental fantasy is simple: Queen Elizabeth I has the historical alchemist John Dee summon the spirit Ariel and transport all of them 400 years into the future, where they find London a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The talented Jenny Runacre plays both Queen Elizabeth and the anarchic latter-day "queen" Bod, who leads an all-female biker gang.
Made in 1977, at the height of the Punk movement, Jubilee has misleadingly been called a "Punk movie." Despite its trappings (from clothing to casting several well-known singers), ultimately it seems more about Punk than of it. How Jarman uses then-rising star Adam Ant is revealing. With his sweetly boyish persona - made just a bit wild by the black leather and painted-on lower sideburns - Adam Ant as "Kid" is undeniably appealing. But throughout he is as passive offstage as he is frenzied onstage. And Kid, unable to connect with anyone, will do anything for his career. He signs with the grotesque Borgia Ginz, the multinational mogul who controls the entire planet's media - hence political, even religious - power structure. Ginz immediately rechristens Kid as "Scum. That's commercial. It's all [the audience] deserves." One of the film's most haunting images is of Kid lasciviously kissing his own image on a TV.
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Format: DVD
Criterion Spine Number: 191

Derek Jarman's twisted psuedo-Rocky Horror is just the perfect treat for any fan of really twisted films.

Queen Elizabeth I (Jenny Runacre who also plays the character of Bod) wants to see into the future. With the aid of her court and the angel Ariel, she is transported 4 centuries into the future to get a gander of current life. What she sees is nothing less than shocking. Total anarchy: Buckingham Palace is a recording studio owned by insane media master Borgia Ginz (Orlando), the Church is a sex hall, police only help themselves and what you can grab, is yours.

The main focous of the movie, however is a group of five young women: the sexy and always turned on Crabs (Little Nell), the "schoolteacher" with a nack for singing "Rule Brittania" in punk fashon named Amyl Nitrate (Jordan), the pyromaniac fire bug Mad (Toyah Willcox), the sweet and romantic Chaos (Hermine Demoriane) and finally the Queen in her own little world: Bod (Jenny's second role in the film).

There is also some early music by: Adam Ant, Brian Eno, Wayne County and many others. The music fits the film perfectly and is quite fun all around.

Now, onto the DVD:

The image quality is great. Probably not the best dvd picture I've ever seen but none the less, it's wonderful. It's presented in it's original aspect ratio of 1.66 and is enhanced for widescreen TVs.

The films original audio track is quite good as well. It's a Dolby Digital Mono track and surprisingly, there's no problems with it (I sometimes have problems with 1.0 tracks but not this time)

The special features are a bushell of fun: First there is the documentary which runs nearly 40 minutes and has a lot of information of the director and film.
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Format: DVD
Derek Jarman didn't set out to make a "punk film", he set out to make "a film about punk", and many people don't like his interpretations. As a disaffected ex-punk, I found his interpretations poignant and honest, to the point where I could see how it would enrage people. People, especially posh kids playing at being lower-class for a time, don't generally like brutal honesty.

One of Jarman's working titles for this film was _High Fashion: An Anarchic Comedy about Sex & Violence_, and while the subject matter and plot are disturbingly nihilistic and there's this intense overtone of depressiveness amongst the primary characters, the comical elements are rather apparent, though probably too dry or deadpan for some people on either side of the pond. Jarman also uses humour to make some clear points about youth's relationship with history and tradition, nationalism, homophobia, the modern state of the monarchy, and other socially relevant concepts that are still important today, no matter how much some people insist otherwise.

The Criterion DVD also contains many special features, including a cinematic trailer and scans and transcriptions from Derek Jarman's _Jubilee_ scrapbook, a documentary with interviews of people who were in the cast and crew, and loads and loads of promotional stills. The highlight of the "scrapbook" portion of the features, in my opinion, is the photo of Jarman wearing Vivienne Westwood's infamous, incredibly incoherent, and nauseatingly homophobic "Open Lettre (T-Shirt) to Derek Jarman", followed by a transcription of the text of the t-shirt -- this will single-handedly destroy any misconceptions one may have of the public face of "punk" ever being progressive or at least open-minded.
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