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368 Ratings

Edward II

Directed by Derek Jarman
United Kingdom, Japan, 1991
Drama, Avant-Garde, Cult


Adapted from the Christopher Marlowe play, Derek Jarman boldly depicts Britain’s only acknowledged gay monarch (1307-1327), whose preference for his male lover over his queen created conflict with his barons and eventually led to civil war.

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Edward II Directed by Derek Jarman

Critics reviews

Derek Jarman’s wittily anachronistic, triumphantly queer gloss on Christopher Marlowe, released in 1991, features Annie Lennox’s rendition of “Every Time We Say Goodbye” and Tilda Swinton as a Margaret Thatcher-like Queen Isabella. So boldly patterned it seems to float in front of the screen like an op art hallucination, it’s showing in a new digital restoration.
April 27, 2018
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My candidate for best movie by the late Derek Jarman is this politically potent, deliberately shocking, anachronistic adaptation of the Christopher Marlowe play (1991); Jarman rethinks it in terms of contemporary English homophobia and the Thatcher-Reagan legacy.
May 08, 1992
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Extravagant visual elegance and sexual politics have always formed a volatile mix in the work of the English film maker Derek Jarman. And in “Edward II,” the 14th-century tale of the downfall of a weak gay monarch and his unpopular companion is invested with a powerful contemporary resonance.
March 20, 1992
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What are people saying?

  • Lights in the Dusk's rating of the film Edward II

    Jarman's masterwork is a marvel of low-budget ingenuity & defiant personal vision. Setting Marlowe's text in what appears to be an underground bunker (extending the post-apocalyptic reveries of his previous work) we have the sense of an imprisoning world of stone & shadow where no true love can grow. Modern iconography crashes into archaic speech, as Jarman once against shows the cyclical nature of human experience.

  • msmichel's rating of the film Edward II

    Jarman, here working with his biggest budget, took the Christopher Marlowe play and adapted it pretty faithfully adding a visual subtext of gay oppression and expression resulting in one of his best realized creations. The wildly anachronistic visual pastiche is a triumph as is the wonderful costume creations of Sandy Powell long before the multiple Oscars she would score later in her career.

  • Sneerwell's rating of the film Edward II

    A pure marvel. Enjoyed every single shot of it, full of Jarman's trademark anachronisms, Tilda Swinton's gorgeous looks and a bewitching combination of passion and the frenzy of despair that burns the characters out. [The final scene with little Edward dancing on a cage is oh so poignantly beautiful]

  • Wee Hunk's rating of the film Edward II

    It's a bit of a shame about the script. It's way too fractured with Gaveston coming and going all the time. Gaveston, Gaveston, Gaveston. I think the script refers to Gaveston 50 times? Everything else about this production is first rate. The actors, the scenarios, the humor. It's a 5 star movie with a 3 star script. I love what Jarman does with Tilda. She is so different and magnificent in his movies.

  • Loz Loory's rating of the film Edward II

    Marlowe's play is difficult because of its flawed structure: it gets tedious with all the Gaveston banishments/reunions. Jarman does overcome this to some extent with the unusual pacing, voiceover and anachronistic settings. Swinton steals the show with her ravishing intensity. Odd casting choice to have Edward and Gaveston so similar in looks. Enough moments of breath-taking brilliance to make it all worthwhile.

  • Richmond Hill's rating of the film Edward II

    Resolutely 'queer' take on Marlowe, overlaid with needless (then contemporary) agit prop. It works in fits and starts with the stark, studio-bound staging enhanced by some crisp performances from Terry and Swinton, although Jarman lays on the queerness with a heavy spade. However, it's a fairly steady narrative away from the director's more personal experiments in tone and form. Straight forward.

  • FISCHER's rating of the film Edward II

    Peut-être un des films les plus abordables du génie rebelle du nouveau cinéma anglais. Un raffinement esthétique hors du commun mis au service d'une troublante sensualité. A voir absolument ....

  • Ralph Melcher's rating of the film Edward II

    Jarman’s films exist most elegantly in the transom between stage and film. Very few directors can take as full advantage of the strengths of both mediums in works that quite formally bridge the spaces occupied by both. By paring the imagery and staging to their absolute essence, while taking advantage of cinema’ s sense of time and space Jarman creates a timeless masterpiece.

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