The Garden | Chicago Reader

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Derek Jarman's lyrical visionary 1990 movie—made after he tested HIV positive and before he made his highly political version of Marlowe's Edward II—alternates views of himself sleeping and dreaming and his seaside home and garden with enigmatic and apocalyptic images of the life of Jesus, the state-endorsed persecution of homosexuals (among other horrors of post-Thatcher England), and diverse fancies and fantasies that often combine these themes. Deftly mixing video and film shot with different stocks and in various gauges, this kaleidoscopic reverie also makes room for a mordant restaging of the “Think Pink” number from Funny Face, many glimpses of children and nature, offscreen recitations of poetry, and such Jarman regulars as actress Tilda Swinton and composer Simon Fisher Turner. For all its virtuosity and beauty (especially apparent in some of the editing patterns), this complex meditation intermittently depends on a fascination with sadomasochism that many viewers won't share. But even if you find yourself—as I did—waiting out these sequences and bemused by portions of the personal symbolism, you're likely to be transfixed by much of the rest.

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