‘To me, fair friend, you never can be old’: The Angelic Conversation (1985)
in Derek Jarman
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Despite the generally positive critical reception of The Tempest, Jarman was unable for several years to gain the necessary funding for his planned film about the painter Caravaggio. Although Jarman often spoke of The Angelic Conversation as if it were an attempt to film Shakespeare's sonnets, it is clear from his own accounts of the film's genesis that the fourteen poems were something of an afterthought, a belated attempt to bring some structure and drama to a series of technically contrived lyrical effects. Jarman once said that his film of The Tempest'should be full of irreverence yet allow the great play to remain intact' and this is arguably what he achieved. The sexual violence which features in many of Jarman's films has here been subjected to a rigorous repression, although since we are talking about a deliberate and conscious intention on Jarman's part, probably 'suppression'.


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