Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

A textual and theoretical reframing of Derek Jarman’s films in the context of British cinema in the 1970s and 1980s

Davies, William James

A textual and theoretical reframing of Derek Jarman’s films in the context of British cinema in the 1970s and 1980s Thumbnail


William James Davies


The purpose of this work is to present a reframing and repositioning of films made by Derek Jarman via in-depth textual analysis (rarely seen previously) and attention to relevant theoretical connections (such as heritage, pastiche, camp, adaptation). These discussions are anchored to a consistent contextual grounding within the British film industry/culture, which includes consideration of the history and role/s of the BFI, dialogues with debates of national cinema and heritage, an assessment of Channel 4’s impact and influence, and an investigation into the function of British Film Year and its lists of acknowledged films.

The first chapter addresses shortcomings and problems of previous framing, and gives an example of my textual analysis and methodology using previously ignored filmic texts Queen is Dead and Paninaro. With the stifling and dominant biographical/auteur approach removed from application (and the label Jarman accounted for as a categorising structure of the text rather than a reference to an external figure), the thesis considers the films as cultural texts which examine representation and heritage. The next three chapters explore Jubilee, The Tempest, and Caravaggio respectively, addressing the films’ uses of history, cultural heritage and style via facets such as temporal layering, punk and camp modalities, pastiche approaches, adaptation, appropriation, and allusion.

The thesis opposes arguments that can be reductive, monolithic, and totalising (like auteur, biographical, and heritage frames of analysis), and instead makes central the operations of the specific filmic text. Rather than allowing texts (in terms of content and meaning) to be subsumed into an examination of the life and personality of the director (as has so often been the case with Jarman films), the filmic texts are observed, analysed and discussed via attentiveness to the particular properties of the text (style; representations; framing), and connected to the British cinema context of the period.


Downloadable Citations