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Derek Jarman.

D erek Jarman was British painter, writer, filmmaker, video director, actor, set designer, AIDS and gay rights activist—certainly one of Great Britain’s most creative and controversial artists.

He was born in Northwood, UK on 31st January, 1942 and studied at King’s College in London and Slade School of Art.

Although best known for his movies—1976’s Sebastiane, 1978’s Jubilee, 1979’s version of Shakespeare’s The Tempest and 1991’s Edward II, he was also the author of a couple of well-recognized books (most notably The last Of England). He also directed music videos for Pet Shop Boys, The Smiths and Brian Ferry, worked for the the theatre, painted and wrote poetry.

After learning he was HIV-positive, he moved to Kent, where he created his own autobiography and died on 19th February, 1994.

J arman’s collaboration with Pet Shop Boys began with the videos for 1987’s It’s a sin and Rent. Then he was chosen to direct the first Pet Shop Boys tour, MCMXXXIX (often referred to by Chris simply as “Derek Jarman tour”). Jarman created seven movies which were used as rear-screen projections on the shows.

The Times, 1989:

    In a game effort to fill in the spaces, they had at least thrown some money at the project. Back projections, filmed by Derek Jarman, provided bold, if crass, illustrations of the song lyrics: “I’ve got the brains / You’ve got the looks / Let’s make lots of money” (from Opportunities) was accompanied by pictures of a man reading from a book, a pouting Mata Hari and piles of gold coins.

Music Collector, 1991:

    Amazingly enough, 1989 also saw the Pet Shop Boys on the road, touring. Enlisting the services of old associate Derek Jarman to choreograph the various spectacular sequences was a wise move. “hey asked me for a theatrical concert and that’s what we’re doing. I suppose some people think pop music and theatre shouldn’t mix but I think pop music is theatre and I don’t see why it shouldn’t be so.”

Pet Shop Boys did one-off concert at the Heaven Nightclub in London on 15th October, 1991 to celebrate the premiere of Derek Jarman’s movie, Edward II (Jarman himself introduced the Pet Shop Boys). A couple of months later, on 13th May, 1992, Pet Shop Boys performed at the Haçienda club in Manchester, USA—this time during the opening of an exhibition of Derek Jarman’s paintings at local art gallery.

Here’s what Jarman said about collaborating with the Pet Shop Boys and his 1989’s projections:

    Of all the music people I’ve worked with they’ve put the most trust in me. Neil, and Chris too I think, has a knowledge of theatre and know that having asked people to do something you have to leave them free to do what they want to do if you’re going to get good results.

    In the film I’ve made I decided there was no point illustrating the songs literally or it would just become laboured.

    For instance Paninaro refers to a particular type of motor scooter kid in Italy—we took that theme and instead made some film which looked like old washed postcards of Italy, of statues and clouds and ceilings and Italian hustlers from another age.

    In each song there’s a taking off point for the imagery I use. They’re parallel.

Derek Jarman was always a friend with Pet Shop Boys and mentioned them in his final diaries:

    Sunday 23.
    Neil Tennant and his friend Jay arrive for tea. I tell him I am to appear at the Christopher Street parade in Berlin, on a stage with Jimmy Somerville. “Oh, will you give him a message from me?” “Of course.” I get my pen and pad. “Piss off Mary, I’m head fairy.”


p. 42
Information about Derek’s Jarman projections.

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