directed by Derek Jarman
UK 1993

Blue, Derek Jarman's final film, was made as he was dying of AIDS and blind, his vision hijacked by constant blue light. For its entire duration, the screen is filled with the color blue and nothing more, while Jarman, with voice contributions from frequent collaborators Tilda Swinton, John Quentin, and Nigel Terry, weaves a poetic, angry, wistful, and sometimes humorous account of his illness and impending mortality. He speaks of having become a "walking laboratory," taking up to thirty pills a day, of the chore of hospital waiting rooms, of the brusque indifference of medical personnel, of the hypocrisy of charity, and of the color blue. Jarman's voice is commanding. This is not an informal affair. He often speaks in verse, augmented with music and sound by Jarman's regular composer Simon Fisher-Turner, as well as Brian Eno, Coil, Momus, The King of Luxembourg, and others, forming an atmospheric wall of sound that is the film's imagery and is constructed in a highly cinematic way, with abrupt shifts in texture and tone. (The short-lived ambient sketch-comedy radio program Blue Jam created a similar mood.) Jarman invokes a sense of journey within the viewer, and the effect is hypnotic and moving. You walk away from it with total identification with Jarman, and once your eyes return to the corporeal world, it's as though sight has been restored. In terms of form, this movie is as bold as anything Jarman has done.

If the 1990s was largely defined by the mainstreaming of AIDS, Blue is a key film from that decade. Like Wim Wenders' Lightning Over Water, about the dying of Nicholas Ray, Blue is a naked portrait of a dying artist, although it is perhaps more intimate in that it originates from within. Blue goes further toward demystifying AIDS than straightforward documentary content has done, and Jarman is not nor was ever shy about retaining his sexual identity in spite of the stigma of his disease, the politics of which he address here with frank combativeness. In an ideal world, it is Blue and not the contrived and didactic Kids that would have made a splash as a provocative document of the modern epidemic—although, in an ideal world, neither film would be necessary. The fact that Jarman's final film hardly registered a dent is evidence that the medium of cinema has failed.

Paul Haynes

Posters

Theatrical Release: December 3, 1993 (United States)

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DVD Comparison: 

Dolmen Home Video - Region 2 - PAL vs. Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL

Thanks to Per-olof Strandberg for the AE Screen Caps!

(Dolmen Home Video - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT vs. Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)

DVD Box Cover

 

Distribution

Dolmen Home Video

Region 2 - PAL

Artificial Eye

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:14.28 (4% PAL speedup) 1:15:39 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

175:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.19 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1:1.78 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7,32 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 : Dolmen

Bitrate: Artificial Eye

Audio English (Dolby Digital 1.0), Italian 1.0 (Dolby Digital 1.0) English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Subtitles Italian, None None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Dolmen Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 175:1

Edition Details:
• Filmographies

DVD Release Date: 07/15/04
Keep Case

Chapters 22

Release Information:
Studio: Artificial Eye

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1:1.78

Edition Details:
• Glitterbug (53:13 / 4:3)
• Biographies
• DVD-9

DVD Release Date: 23 Jul 2007
Keep Case

Chapters 8

 

 

Comments:
ADDITION: Artificial Eye - March 08': I'm quite sure that Artificial-Eye have recycled their master tape (probably analog betacam) made for their VHS release in 1993. This old transfer is made from an used cinema copy, and is full of dirt, dust, and reel change mark's every 20 minute. The closer the reel change is, the more dirt is visible. In a close look the image is full of artefacts, and it's quite annoying to watch it with a projector. Based on the opening and closing credits the transfer seems to be quite soft, but it doesn't disturb as the image is only blue. Compared to the Italian release (that seems to be a disaster), the Artificial-Eye is superior, and has more accurate color.

NOTE: The screen caps are not exact matches. I tried to find "problems" on the AE disc. I'm sure that there are even more problems in the Italian release. The point is that they have recycled an old master tape. Even tough the amount of dirt is limited, it's disturbing in a film that should have only one color. The dirt looks bigger than if there was live action on it. People who want to view / listen to the film shouldn't be afraid to by this disc. The main thing is the sound, and it's clean from dirt, and sounds probably as intended.

The Artificial-Eye DVD has as extra material Derek Jarman's last film, Glitterbug, shot on Super-8.

 - Per-Olof Strandberg

ON THE DOLMEN: You'd think it'd be kind of hard to fuck up a DVD issue of Derek Jarman's Blue, but Italian distributor Dolmen has managed to find a way. This transfer is obviously culled from a VHS. While the whole film is simply the color blue, bookended by credits, artefacts are nonetheless present throughout, with visible analog noise and rolling horizontal lines. Furthermore, the audio is monaural (the English soundtrack, fortunately, sounds a lot richer than the Italian dub), which is not the way the film was originally mixed (the theatrical release was Dolby SR). The ideal way to present this on DVD would be either a 3-channel mix or a 5-channel mix, with Jarman's voice isolated in the center channel, and music and effects given to the peripheral channels. But since this disc, which is barebones and no better than a homemade VHS port, is mono, the words that are spoken are frequently unintelligible, drowned out by the music.

Complaining about a bad transfer of Blue might seem comical to some, but Jarman's intent was for the viewer to see a blue void for 70-odd minutes. While 35mm prints undoubtedly displayed speckles and other damage, the inescapable feeling that you're watching video when looking at this disc diminishes the effect a lot more than some scratches would have.

Oh, and the shade of blue on display here is probably not accurate. out of

 - Paul Haynes

 



DVD Menus
 

(Dolmen Home Video - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT vs. Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)
 

 


Screen Captures

 

(Dolmen Home Video - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 

 


(Dolmen Home Video - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 

 


(Dolmen Home Video - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 

 


(Dolmen Home Video - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Dolmen Home Video - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)'

 

 

 


  (Dolmen Home Video - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Artificial Eye

Sound:

Extras: Artificial Eye
Menu: Artificial Eye

 

 

 
DVD Box Cover

 

Distribution

Dolmen Home Video

Region 2 - PAL

Artificial Eye

Region 2 - PAL




 

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