Andy's Anachronisms - Time Travel Movie Reviews

Jubilee (1977)
Sex, drugs and punk rock. Add violence and time travel and you have Jubilee.

Directed and Written by Derek Jarman

The Basic Plot

Wishing to see the future of her kingdom, Queen Elizabeth I has her alchemist John Dee cast a spell to call on the angel Ariel. With Arielís assistance Queen Elizabeth I is transported to an England of the future in which anarchy reigns.

The Analysis

Nothing screams art-house film like an opening sequence featuring a dwarf, dressed in 16th Century clothing, traipsing through an English garden while feeding a pack of Great Danes. The cinematic pretensions aside, Derek Jarmanís film about contemporary social anarchy as seen through the lens of 1970s British punk scene rings true - for the most part. The film suffers from the absence of a strong plot or main character to act as our guide through the dystopian landscape that Jarman paints.

Actress Jenny Runance in a dual performance as Queen Elizabeth I and Bod nominally serves as our guide through both periods. As a time traveler Queen Elizabeth I is little more than a witness to the anarchy and has virtually no interaction with the present. With nothing at stake, her presence and the framing sequence does very little to add to the film. As Bod, Runance projects an air of matriarch of the clan of dysfunctional young women cast adrift in a society that promises no future for them.

Watching Jubilee itís impossible not to draw comparisons to Kubrickís seminal 1971 film A Clockwork Orange based on Anthony Burgessí novel of the same name. Where Alexís band of male droogs use violence as form of entertainment and gratification, Jubileeís band of mostly female outcasts use violence as a means of extracting revenge on a society that has betrayed them.

Jarmanís personal connections to the art scene of 1970s England afforded him the opportunity to cast a number of up-and-coming as well as established names in the punk scene, such as Jordan, an impossibly young Adam Ant, Toyah Wilcox, and an uncredited Siouxsie Sioux .

While neither a film exclusively about punk music, nor about time travel, Jubilee does contain sufficient amounts of both elements to make it interesting .

©2007 - A. Taylor
Review Posted: 2007-04-13

Related Links:

Anarchy in the UK - Derek Jarman's Jubilee Revisited
A detailed review from 2000 of Derek Jarman's film Jubilee (1977) writen by Julian Upton in the online film journal - Bright Lights Film Journal 101.

Internet Movie Database
The ever useful Internet Movie Database entry for Jubilee complete with cast info, plot summary, quotes, trivia, and release dates.

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