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4.1 out of 5 stars
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4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 1 July 2001
Derek Jarman's 1977 film Jubilee, said to be the "first official punk film" is one of the most original and disturbing urban dystopias to emerge from that era of British film-making. Setting itself in a version of late 70s London where anarchy reigns and Judge Dredd-style police are as lawless as the gangs on the street, the film never fails to surprise and Punk rock experts can play a game of spot-the-cameo. Whilst all this takes place, there's also the matter of Queen Elizabeth I, brought forward in time by the angel Arial to gain supreme knowledge...
Violent and twisted, Jubille manages, however, to convince that destruction isn't the only aspect of an anarchic society, and questions the meaning meaning of life, love, history and even the violence itself in a world without balance.
The only extra on the disc is a 40 minute BBC Face-to-Face documentary with Derek Jarman, which, although interesting, does not tackle the subject of this film, which is a shame as some background on the film would have been very interesting. Even so, a curio that belongs in many peoples collections.
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on 6 July 2006
Don't watch this expecting an exposition of punk, or a linear movie with a happy ending.

Jubilee catalogues the dying of a country's soul. That may sound dramatic, but it is an artist's distopian vision of the future - or 'no future'- as one reviewer has deftly pointed out, two years before Thatcher got into power. Yet it goes beyond the political; it's about the brutalisation of people, the breaking down of civilisation. Jarman's classical art background comes through in all his work and this is no exception. It's not an easy film to watch, not simply because of the extreme nature of some of the scenes, but because it's message is both intellegent and sad. The soundtrack is a mixture of punk and sublime Eno.

It could also be, for some, a nostalgic look at a post-war England/Britain that has since disappeared - teapots, horn rimmed NHS specs and HP Sauce greasy spoon cafes. 1977 was grim -thank god for Derek Jarman and artists like him, whose mirror will reflect into the 21st century. Watch this film as art with something to say. Don't expect to come out smiling.

"she wouldn't even carry a gun."
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Warned off at the time about this film I snuck with friends to watch it at Essex Uni in Colchester where they had a not so secret showing. This was in 1978 and I was transfixed with the violence, the sheer hatred, the squats and the decadence. I missed some of the nuance transfixed by the Early Ants, Banshees and Chelsea.
I was beguiled by the hatred because I wanted to be which was the antithesis of the film's apparent message. Jarman was a snob of high taste aesthetics. To me this represented the alternative to the whacks and commands of the school system, another variation of "If". This was part of the ultimate one finger fightback as my reading of the film went.

Watching it 30 years later and I am split down the middle. It captures the squats, the madness, the middle class vitriol and the decay of the UK. The dialogue a cross between philsosphy and cliche. The film 30 years later failed to move me, although I was also captivated by nostalgia. It just seems so middlebrown angst laden; ladles of it.

Seeing Toyah, Adam et al, is a giggle as they became icons of the era for joining in with the moneyed elite; the commercial sell outs. This filmic stance was all just a pose, like watching adolescents pull each others hair at a school disco. As Thatchler took the reins of the state, she drove the war chariot harder and faster than the fearsome women depicted in this film. These feral amazons and spartans hitched a ride on her entrails. Adam was in a royal variety performance within 5 years of making this film. Toyah went on to make mock gothic artefacts for people who missed out on punk. They became the caricatures mocked within the dialogue with no apparent psychological unease at the volte face. Adam stands at the top of the building and is asked whether he would sell his soul. The answer is yes of course he would and look what happened. Faustus took his mind.

This is a period piece, a marker of life before Margaret, just before the Rotherhithe, Bermondsey, Isle of Dogs were transformed with huge amounts of money into sterile bleak moderne places for the middle brow to re-enact Friends. This film rests on a polarity with this piece of urbane angst.

The precedents were already festering within this film as the virtiol and anger is too forced to be maintained. The sex turned into Shortbus and the hankering for breaking sexual taboos became "heaven". The world segregated itself into classes, sexualities and genders with each fighting their corner in a will to power.

Is it still worth watching if you were not there? I don't know is the answer. The dialogue is heavy with Elizabethanesque middlebrow flourishes. There are some golden moments contained within it. The take on the modern media is true. The svengali who manipulates public taste with music is prescient. The collapse of Communistic belief predicted in the film was clairvoyant along with the plunge of the dollar.

The rise of X Factor has shown music played loud enough stops the noise of the world falling apart. The cracks can no longer be heard. Perhaps this film is a beacon for a moment in time. Nietzsche is right about the eternal return, not in relation to human reincarnation but cultural re emergence. They do happen again. Maybe in six months this will be a six and then in ten years it will be completely forgotten.

This is the power of this film; vacilitation.
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on 10 February 2014
I remember recording this film when it was first shown in the early days of Channel 4. I was really taken by the story and the whole decadent nature of the world Jarman had created. I had never really seen anything as violent and risque as that on tv before and its imagery has always stuck with me. It was weird seeing a very tom boy Toyah in it too and an equally young Adam Ant. Years later the film popped into my head again and a quick Amazon search revealed that it was available on dvd. I bought a copy for myself and another as a present for my girlfriend of the time as we are still in contact and I thought she would like to see it again too.

The film is very dated and the acting is not brilliant in places but that doesn't matter. That is all part of the overall style of the film imo. I loved this film when I was growing up and it was great to see it again. A real nostalgia trip but not necessarily for everyone's taste, hence 4 stars.
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on 28 December 2011
A great film from the punk era. The mayhem, chaos and disrespect is highlighted extremely well. Well worth a watch if only to see some of the stars of today who must be cringing at their appearance in the film. Buy it !!
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on 26 June 2001
The film gets 5 stars because it is the definitive cult classic on 70s punk Britain in the future. The film direction has a very 70s feel (like Mad Max) and the claustraphobic sensation is disturbing. Adam Ant and Toyah Wilcox play their parts with disturbing conviction and one wonders what would have happened if society had collapsed in 1977, leaving anarchy and dispair.
The film was not shown on TV until Channel 4's banned season in 1992 and this is well justified. The film contains brutal acts of violence, such as a sex and murder by suffocation scene. It is not for the faint hearted.
It is probably not a film you would want to watch more than once, but is a must for those who are interested in the punk rock scene.
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on 27 January 2013
The punk era did not last long, but it seemed to have a huge impact on where we are now - which was not only limited to the music scene. This film is amazing, and features a very young Toyah and Adam Ant as "Boy".....
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on 11 January 2002
...'Jubilee' got it's first TV premier in November'85 on Channel 4 back in the days when they use to put a Red triangle in one of the corners of the Screen. Laughable!!
I didn't have a video 17 years ago so I had to sneek down stairs and watch it on my parents TV with the Sound down. Still I can still recall the film years later and being fixated by it.
Even my Film Studies Teacher asked the class whether anyone had watched it and taped it. Radical Days.
In a time of Pretty people and manufactured Films,videos and Muzak; this film dared to shock and boy oh boy did it. The sets,the sex,the clothes,music and the especially the make-up and haircuts. Toyah the pyromaniac with the vivid Red hair and Jordan with her famous twinsets,love of Floris and her asymetrical make-up.
Jenny Runacre's stunning portrayal as Queen Elizabeth I and as the Punk Queen of all she surveys.
Some of the Music is dire but the attention to detail cannot be denied it's almost as if in '77 they had a idea of what fashion would look like in the 80's and 90's. I dare anyone to be that inventive now. The economic and political situation was just perfect; a feeling that Great Britain's best days were behind her; economically stagnant,politically adrift and just two years before Thatcher's brave new world arrived.Oh yes and not forgetting that the Monarch had permitted a few chairs and tables in the street to eat blancmange,jelly and wave the Union Jack.
In an era when people seem to spend most of their precious time on their Mobiles and wondering where the next Ibiza hioliday is coming 'Jubliee' summed up a far and distant country. Slightly done in and worn down. Down but not exactly out.
25 long years later and here we are in 2002.
Will another creative cutting edge Director make a homage with the up and coming.
Kate Winslett in the Jenny Runacre role or maybe Madonna (No maybe not).
Truth is it wouldn't happen we're far too properous to care or dare.
Britain in '02 is different to '77.
The agression wouldn't be genuine and the people too perfect looking. Caste of Hollyoaks I don't think so.
And anyway most of the set disappeared under Docklands re-development and flashy apartments.
The reality is different and any remake would be just pure nostaglia.
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For me, Derek Jarman’s filmography started well with ‘Sebastian’ but declined thereafter, reaching a nadir with ‘Angelic Conversations’ before returning back to form with ‘Caravaggio’. As his second film, ‘Jubilee’ therefore is not, in my opinion, as loveable as ‘Sebastian’, but neither is it that much worse.

It was a clever conceit to conceive of a return to the England of 1977 of Queen Elizabeth I with her astrologer John Dee. Here Ariel shows them “the shadow of this time.” The year 1977 was the silver jubilee of our present queen, and Jarman uses this idea of the first Elizabeth’s return to the future to display a vision of a dystopian England to make his own commentary on life in the 1970s. Violence stalks the streets whilst maypole strings are composed of barbed wire – yet old ladies still play bingo and young people still take off their clothes in launderettes.

The acting and design is often terribly amateur and yet often quite captivating. Adam Ant provides some prettyboy wallpaper and Toyah Willcocks is a punk pyromaniac. The soundtrack is by no means all punk: there are moments of classical music and even a funky disco in the orgy scene (supposedly set in the Roman Catholic Westminster Cathedral.) And I enjoyed the rock version of ‘Jerusalem’.

Reviewing the film now, more than a generation after it came out, one wonders what all the infernal fuss was about at the time of its release. It is not particularly shocking; has some clever and insightful things to say; and is never boring. But it is not a masterpiece – its faults are all too plain to see and it can seem very amateurish in places.

The only extra on my DVD is the same Jeremy Isaacs interview Jarman gave towards the end of his life that also appears on the ‘Sebastian’ DVD. There are unfortunately – and incomprehensibly – no subtitles on my DVD.
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on 16 July 2010
In 1977 London has become a grim landscape inhabited by anarchic, violent gangs and Buckingham Palace has become a recording studio in a world where the media is controlled by a man called Borgia Ginz.
The film echoes much of the work of John Waters, Ken Russell and Jean Cocteau, and preceeds some of Peter Greenaway's filmic concerns ; It's often rough, oblique and jagged but shot with wit, irony and a dadaist eye towards violence.
this DVD release suffers from poor colours and lacks high definition digital transfer.
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