As one of his most notable works to date, Jubilee (1978) stands as the only genuine documentation of the punk phenomenon in British cinema.
Responding to the Queens Diamond Jubilee in 1977, the film follows a time travelling Queen Elizabeth I (Jenny Runacre), transported from the 16th century, to see a bleak and derelict Britain, which she once thought as great. The current reigning queen, Elizabeth II, is dead and the streets are filled with anarchy fuelled by gangs of punks committing acts of bloody murder.
In one particular squat, there lives an alternative Monarch, Bod (also played by Jenny Runacre) who leads her gang of misfits Crabs (Nell Campbell), Mad (Toyah Wilcox), Amyl Nitrate (Jordan) and Chaos (Hermine Demoriane) to commit heinous crimes of murder and other forms of deviant behaviour. Interestingly, Jarman’s predominantly female cast rebels against the contemporary discourse that surrounds the subculture, one which so heavily concentrates on men.
Much to the dismay of cinemagoers, Jarman’s films rarely follow the traditional storyline that other mainstream pictures so often do. Therefore, a customary breakdown of the plot is unnecessary. It can rather be seen to have an episodic narrative, that has no discernible plot
All-in-all to consciously recreate natural acts of rebellion is a difficult task. It can often come across as extremely derivative (just have a look at The Clash inspired film London Town (2016)). However, Jubilee is the antithesis of this. If anything, it continued to set standards for punk, rather than trying to recreate them.
director DEREK JARMAN
director of photography PETER MIDDLETON
cast LITTLE NELL, HERMINE DEMORIANE, IAN CHARLESON, ADAM ANT and WAYNE COUNTY
words PRIYESH PATEL