Directed by Derek Jarman
UK 1985

 

  Jarman's painterly eye and technical ingenuity are utilized to good effect here in this characteristically elliptical film that uses 12 Shakespeare sonnets (narrated by Judi Dench) as its starting point. With stop-motion effects, strange tableaux of eerie landscapes and a similar slew of Jarmanesque imagery, the black-and-white pictures processed on video lend the film a translucent and romantic air that is perfectly complemented by Dench's rich velvety intonations.

Excerpt from Channel 4 located HERE

***

Jarman's setting for twelve Shakespeare sonnets has no narrative as such, and the only dialogue is Judi Dench's reading of the poems. Yet even though it dispenses with such conventions, it remains a hypnotically beautiful film. Its textured, stop-frame tableaux of caves, rocks, water, and figures in strange and terrible landscapes throw up myriad painterly similarities: the lesser religious nightmares of a Bosch or Brueghel, Victorian landscape of the 'Gordale Scar school'. Very romantic.

 Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

***

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 film, the unique technical approach results in a striking aesthetic, with Coil's languorous soundtrack completing the intoxicating effect.

Theatrical Release: February 1985

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DVD Review: BFI - Region 2 - PAL

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Distribution BFI Video - Region 2 - PAL
Runtime 1:17:24 
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.12 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0) 
Subtitles English, Dutch, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: BFI Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Specially commissioned interviews with producer James Mackay and production designer Christopher Hobbs
• Derek Jarman in conversation with Simon Field (1989, 32 mins)
• Stills gallery
• 20-page 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

DVD Release Date: January 29th, 2007

Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 8

 

 

Comments:

The image looks... as the image is - a Super-8 blown up to 35-millimeter - full of contours, gradation and texture - specifically as intended. If you are prepared to give this a full chance you may come to the conclusion that it is an incredibly striking and beautiful film. It does exhibit the characteristics of a progressive transfer, which, I can only assume is part of its evolution - either that or the function of rendering it non-interlaced would not have a significant affect on its appearance. I lean toward the latter.

Sound quality is, as one might expect, not particularly dynamic, but Judi Dench is clear and fully audible as she recites the sonnets. Although there is no commentary the BFI disc has some great extras. Interviews with producer James Mackay and production designer Christopher Hobbs, a 30 minute featurette with Derek Jarman in conversation with Simon Field and a still gallery to round out the digital supplements. There is also a keen 20-page 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. Overall Jarman fans could not ask for more and hopefully many will have exposure to this avant-garde classic.       

Gary W. Tooze

 



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Distribution BFI Video - Region 2 - PAL




 

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