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The Angelic Conversation [1985] [DVD]

Judi Dench , Derek Jarman    Parental Guidance   DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
Price: 9.31 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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The Angelic Conversation [1985] [DVD] + Wittgenstein [1993] [DVD]
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Product details

  • Actors: Judi Dench
  • Directors: Derek Jarman
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Bfi
  • DVD Release Date: 29 Jan 2007
  • Run Time: 78 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 67,957 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

A film by Derek Jarman

Intense, dreamlike, and, poetic, The Angelic Conversation is one of the most artistic of Derek Jarman's films. With his painter's eye Jarman conjured, in a beautiful palette of light, colour and texture, an evocative and radical visualisation of Shakespeare's love poems

Of the 154 sonnets written by Shakespeare, most were written to an unnamed young man, commonly referred to as the Fair Youth. Here Judi Dench's emotive readings of 14 sonnets are coupled with ethereal sequences; figures on seashores, by streams and in colourful gardens. The disruption of these magical scenes with images of barren and threatening landscapes echoes perfectly the celebration and torment of love explored in the sonnets.

Shot on Super-8 before being transferred to 35mm, the unique technical approach results in a striking aesthetic, with Coil's languorous soundtrack completing the intoxicating effect.

DVD extras

  • Specially commissioned interviews with producer James Mackay and production designer Christopher Hobbs
  • Derek Jarman in conversation withy Simon Field (1989, 32 mins)
  • Stills gallery
  • Fully illustrated booklet including introductory essay by Colin MacCabe, Tilda Swinton's testimonial letter to Derek Jarman and photographs taken during the making of the film
UK | 1985 | colour | optional hard-of-hearing subtitles | 78 minutes | Ratio 1.33:1 | Region 2 DVD


'...this is the kind of film that burns into the mind's eye. Only an artist could have made it' --Derek Malcolm, The Guardian

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful dream brought to life 31 Oct 2009
I saw this at the cinema on its original release, what a beautiful, dream-like film it is. Judi Dench is one of those rare actress's who can make the work of shakespeare come alive, it was listening to Judi Dench speak the sonnets in this film that finally helped me to make sense of the bard. A beautiful film made by a brilliant man, the great Derek Jarman. A fine example of his work.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Avant-Garde Shakespeare 25 Mar 2011
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Derek Jarman at his typically edgy directing: there is a dreamy quality to the film, with its often surreal blend of music and (often) neo-brutalist imagery which does not sit well with the Shakespeare Sonnets (wonderfully read by Dame Judi Dench.)

This is my problem with the DVD: not enough Shakespeare! I suspect that means I'm not the art-film target audience Jarman had in mind, but I still feel that more of the juxtaposition between the sonnet reading representing the yearning torture of love and the visual imagery would have enhanced the experience. As it is, the filming often seems self-indulgent - which might, I suppose, be the point.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Experimental cinema at its best 5 Mar 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I think this is a film to treasure. It has three elements that add up to a wonderful whole. The film-making excellence of Derek Jarman, the reading by Judi Dench and the music by Coil complement each other beautifully. I can see why another reviewer found a dissonance between the sonnets and the imagery but I found that a reading of the excellent booklet that comes with the DVD helps to understand how Jarman made the choices he did. There is mystery in the choice of some images but I think one comes to such films expecting to be challenged, to find the unexpected and at times inexplicable, and to be open to new ways of perceiving how the emotions, in this case love, are portrayed and expressed. It so happens that in this instance the love is between two men but it's depiction is beautiful; only a homophobe will find something objectionable here.
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Young he was then and Shakespeare's Sonnets was an easy subject, even in their homosexual reading. Many sonnets are absolutely ambiguous as for the sexual orientation and it is easy to make them lean left or right.

The whole objective is to illustrate sonnets that are pure words and music. Two main characters are walking around or through, up and down, a desolate purely mineral landscape in which we only have rocks, fumes and various smokes coming out of caves. It is dirty, dusty, black and white and the two boys are dressed in some kind of formal pants and coats.

The film is the impossible story of the meeting of the two boys who desire a male contact and can't have it or have to cross all kinds of obstacles and hostility to little by little getting close to it. The first distant contact will be when they reach some ocean or sea and one is swimming. That swimming becomes extremely sensual and sexual because the second is observing and projecting himself into the water to have that liquid contact with the body he desires. In fact the director is playing with our own senses and he knows that we are voyeurs in our deepest dimension and to see someone swimming is more erotic than to see the same one naked because of the water into which the voyeur is projecting himself and hence achieving full, total intimate contact with the desired person.

Finally their desires erupt into a physical fight, naked torso against naked torso and it is this fight that turns into a love scene. They have finally found each other. They can hug each other, embrace each other, mutually caress their bodies, sleep and rest together, be two in one and one in two. Shakespeare is just punctuating the story with his sonnets.

But it is a film.
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11 of 65 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Angelic Conversation [1985] [DVD] 5 Sep 2009
I can't damn believe it!! I do have seen bad movies, but this one takes the paramount price. Derek Jarman might be an artist in his own insane way, in his own "spécialisation-amploise", yet all that said, this movie sucked and irritated all the way trough and even far further. After 5 minutes I was keeping my finger firmly on the fastforward button and I kept doing it to the very end of the show. It was such a incredible crap it's unbelievable.The movie was blurry ( w.purpose, which kind,I still don't comprehend ), so I thought my LCD was laying off. One thing is for sure: the movie director must have been hallucinating, probably on LSD or something even stronger, whatever that might be. I mean- I gave the seller guys 5 star feedback without seeing the film and I still mean every single word of why I did it.The service was excellent and the delivery time almost non-existing. If my living situation was different ( I'm not enjoying solitude in the country side ), I would probably standing outside screaming out my anger and dissatisfaction and later on getting totally wasted with alcoholic beverages in order to calm my nerves and to get numb because of this so called "artistic" nonsense manure.
Regards, Marcus
P.S. I deeply urge the potential buyers of this DVD: PLEASE DO NOT, I REPEAT DO NOT SPEND YOUR BUCKS ON THIS ABSURDITY! SPEND IT ON SOMETHING ELSE,be reasonable and at least try to see the trailer first!!!The "Angelic Conversation" is not a movie, it's a Happening recorded by money hungry, paranoid, insane and disillusional Mr. Jarman
P.P.S.Goosh, I have never published a such a negative review, yet they more I think about this crappy movie ( even today ) they more upset I get.Baaad boy-think positively, Marcus!
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