War Requiem (1989)

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War Requiem: Directed by Derek Jarman. With Nathaniel Parker, Tilda Swinton, Laurence Olivier, Patricia Hayes. A movie with no spoken dialogue, it is set against the music and lyrics of Benjamin Britten’s “War Requiem” which includes poetry by World War I soldier Wilfred Owen reflecting the horrors of war. There is no linear story or dialogue. It’s imagery reflects Owen’s story, that of other soldiers, and a nurse during World War I. It also includes actual footage of contemporary wars, including World War II, Vietnam, and Angola.

“War Requiem is a vital film in Derek Jarmanu0026#39;s filmography; seemingly handcuffed by a score with which he could not play around at all, Jarman could not work his sonic wizardry with his usual collaborator Simon Fisher Turner, or any others. However, here Jarman fused many of his passions and obsessions into one of his most personal statements: working with favorite actors, especially the intense and beautiful Tilda Swinton; using the shimmering, glorious Super 8 of home and play; collaging and staging and digging up artifacts to reposition and reexamine them; and composing image and cuts like a composer working on a new symphony. Dziga Vertov and Dovzhenko may have been working in this vein this decades ago, but if Jarman gives it a try today, the comparisons are to u0026quot;music videou0026quot;; naturally, no one is really paying attention if theyu0026#39;re making comments like this. The intent and effect of works such as War Requiem (or The Last of England and The Garden) are virtually an antithesis of the shallow, splashy, and seizure-ridden style and pace of MTV and company. Jarman has advanced his uniquely cinematic aesthetic – somewhere between the work of a symphonic composer and a painter, working with light and celluloid instead of oils – in this work that treads a tightrope between narrative and poetic verse. So many sequences of this film are powerful and gutsy and utterly moving: the montage of war footage, building in rhythm and intensity with Brittenu0026#39;s score; the tear-inducing shot of Tilda swaying to the music; the nurses playing u0026quot;Blind Man¹s Bluffu0026quot;; the smoke and flowers. Derek crafted one of his most hearfelt, original, and spontaneously lyrical movies in War Requiem; now it only needs a top-notch release on DVD.”


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