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Edward II [DVD] [1991]

11 customer reviews

Price: £19.30 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: Steven Waddington, Tilda Swinton, Andrew Tiernan, Annie Lennox, Nigel Terry
  • Directors: Derek Jarman
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Second Sight Films
  • DVD Release Date: 1 Mar. 2010
  • Run Time: 87 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002ZVE94A
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 36,247 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

Christopher Marlowe's 16th century play is radically adapted by Derek Jarman in one of his most powerful films. Using anachronistic imagery, modern dress, gay activists battling riot police and Annie Lennox singing Cole Porter, the story of Britain's only openly gay monarch and the persecution he suffered is given a contemporary resonance by Jarman, paralleling the injustice with prevailing modern-day homophobia. King Edward II rejects his cold wife Queen Isabella and takes a male lover, the commoner Piers Gaveston upon whom he betows gifts and power. The king's behaviour enrages the sober, business-suited court officials and the spurned queen becomes a seething monster whose dresses and jewellery grow more outrageously lavish as her need to vengeance escalates and the plotting begins. Bonus Feature - Derek's Edward - An exclusive documentary featuring cast and crew interviews.

Review

Mesmerising --Rolling Stone

A jewel of a film --Channel4.com

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Chip Kaufmann on 15 April 2010
Format: DVD
Being one of only two movies (as opposed to stage productions) based on the works of Christopher Marlowe (the other is Richard Burton's 1967 DOCTOR FAUSTUS), Derek Jarman's 1991 film of EDWARD II would be important for that reason alone. However there is more to the film than that. It's not only what meets the eye but what meets the ear that really counts. Like most of his films, Jarman shot EDWARD II on a shoestring and like many a theatre director turned filmmaker, he follows the time honored tradition of re-interpreting a classic play for the screen. The minimal settings and modern costumes, which were partially budgetary concerns, take some getting used to as does the overtly gay overtone that Jarman brings out which is not for the easily offended even though it can clearly be found in Marlowe's text. However, if you can get past that, then this EDWARD II can be a surprisingly rich and rewarding experience especially on repeated viewings.

After I have watched a film version of a Shakespeare play or in this case Marlowe, I like to run it through my sound system without the picture and just listen to the words and how the actors speak them. The cast for EDWARD II is very strong and their theatrical background comes through with most of Marlowe's lines. Shakespeare was regarded as a playwright when he died in 1616 while Marlowe was considered a poet when he was murdered in 1593. There is poetry in Marlowe's blank verse that even Shakespeare couldn't aspire to although he was the better writer overall. But I digress. With a trio of strong performances from Stephen Waddington, Tilda Swinton, and Nigel Terry, this version of EDWARD II has a raw power that is accentuated by Jarman's visuals and Simon Fisher-Turner's music. Forget the anachronisms like Annie Lennox or the appearance of Queer Nation and focus on the story of a flawed individual who like Othello, "loved not wisely, but too well".
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 27 May 2011
Format: DVD
I love Derek Jarman and his work but while I think this must have been an enormously powerful anti-homophobia film when it was made in the 1990s, it fails as a production of Marlowe's sixteenth century text.

Jarman closes down all the ambiguity of Marlowe's play and makes this an overt play about gay rights. His characters are far more linear than in Marlowe's text, and there's no character arc or development for Edward. Where Marlowe deliberately complicates whether Edward's crime is one of `sexuality' (an idea which didn't really exist in the C16th) or of political transgression, Jarman makes him simply a victim of homophobia.

Some of the affects are also jarringly over-the-top in baroque fashion e.g. Tilda Swinton's vampiric method of killing...

So if you're interested in Jarman, gay politics, or just a beautifully-shot and visually-stunning film with stark, bare sets, then this is excellent. But if you're looking for a production of Marlowe's sixteenth century play, then this isn't it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 28 May 2014
Format: DVD
Edward II is a political drama. Edward II behaves unwisely, creating enemies by bestowing gifts and titles upon Gaveston. This sets up the central conflict of the play.

I've read the New Mermaid text of Edward II (which I recommended) and I saw the play at the National Theatre London in 2013 (which was sufficiently impressive that I went back to see it a second time). The film, whilst good, was for me eclipsed by that production.

Against this context the film frustrated on first viewing, but improved on a deserved second viewing. The film depicts Marlowe's play, but a number of simplifications and contractions are used, characters are dropped (exam students beware).

The film is short (~90 mins). Had it been longer it might have allowed more time for the development of character and situation. Events feel rushed. The film audience is not encouraged to have sympathy for either Edward II or Gaveston at the outset. Perhaps such sympathies are assumed.

Filming is largely in a studio with dated black backgrounds rather than on location, making the film feel more like a play.

This appears to be the only available film of Edward II. It would be good if the viewer could see a production more in keeping with the original text first. Failing that the viewer with adequate time could study the text of the play in advance. With those caveats this film is worth watching.

(There are a number of consensual scenes of gay nudity, including genitals. These are dull but inoffensive. I doubt that they are erotic. The film also contains quite a lot of abuse, often of a sexual nature, as the plot requires. These are intended to be offensive and achieve that end. The film is not intended to be comfortable viewing.)
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jacques COULARDEAU on 22 July 2014
Format: DVD
This film came out four centuries after the first performance of the play and in a way sealed Jarman's fate since Marlowe was assassinated in 1593 and Jarman will be killed by AIDS in 1994, four hundred and one year after Marlowe's death. There is no fate in the world, but yet things can be well arranged from time to time.

The film has both little to do with the play and yet is quite close to it. The play itself reduces the political dimension of a feudal king who is all-powerful, theoretically, though this power has been reduced by the Magna Carta in 1215, to some tyrannical whimsical fancy of real authority. In fact the play is the squeezing of fifteen years of history in just five acts, more or less crushing any temporal perspective down and this makes the personal love affair of the King for Gaveston and then the close connection to the Despenser family, in both cases denying the privileged position and authority of the peers, the dominant affair. We must also note the play was discreet about the role of the church, apart from the first banishment imposed by the Pope at the request of the peers because the King then did not respect the balance established in the Magna Carta.

Derek Jarman goes a lot farther since he erases the political dimension of the last scene in which Edward III has Mortimer executed in the most violent but "legal" way for the killing of his father and his mother imprisoned pending her trial as an accomplice to this murder. The young king in the film dances to some music from his MP3 reader on the cage containing Mortimer and his mother covered in waste.
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