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New Left Review 6, November-December 2000


An elegy for Derek Jarman, meditating on the meanings of the monochrome he took from Yves Klein for his last film, confronting death. From lapis lazuli to ultramarine: shades of paradise from Ficino and Blake to Goethe and Guy Debord.

PETER WOLLEN

BLUE

Derek Jarman’s film, Blue, opened at the Camden Parkway cinema in London on August 23, 1993, and was shown the next month on Channel Four with a simultaneous broadcast of the soundtrack on BBC’s Radio Three. A few months later Jarman was dead, from complications derived from AIDS. Blue is an autobiographical film, which deals directly with its director’s experience of AIDS, his blindness, and his awareness of his approaching death. At the same time, it should be seen in parallel with his book, Chroma, a meditation on colour, completed in June 1993 and published the next year. The text of Blue consists almost entirely of material from the book’s section, ‘Into The Blue’, plus one brief passage from ‘The Perils of Yellow’, and a single new paragraph in which Blue is engaged in a death struggle with his mortal foe, Yellowbelly. The film consists of the projection on screen, for its entire seventy-five minutes, of pure blue light, with a soundtrack of the film-maker reading his text and a music score by his collaborator, Simon Turner.

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Peter Wollen, ‘Blue’, NLR 6: £3
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