Less nakedflesh I -
than Cannes. less seriously intentthan Berlin. the Edinburgh International Film Festival ofersa balance of innovation and entertainment.
! Trevor Johnston zooms in
onthe best ofthisweek's
i offerings atthe Film
' I Edward II Iidinburgh
regular Derek Jarman will
be on hand to introduce
i provocative revision of
Marlowe's English history
i play. underliningits
i relevance intothe 1990s.
With Tilda Swinton and
l Steven \Vaddington. See preview.
l (‘umm I. I’rr [beluga
I The Grass Arena The
of wino turned chess
wizard. John llealy.
makes for unsentimental.
grimly uplifting drarnain
the hands of Scots director
(iillics Mackinnon. RSC
Hamlet Mark Rylancc
virtually lives the title
role. See preview.
Film/muse I. 'l‘ueﬂlxlug.
I The Medium As‘ one of
the highlightsofthe Music
and Cinema season.
; Italian composer
; (iiancarlo Menotti (who
i now lives near Edinburgh)
will introduce this rare
i showiagof the adaptation
ofhis opera for the movie
screen. which he directed ltlmscll in 1951. See preview. Sun 13.4113). [ﬁlm/muse 1. 7pm I Poison Todd I Iayncs' Genet-inﬂuenced triptych ofstories reflecting the experience ofthe outsider. sexual or otherwise. has attracted both admiration from the
‘cincastes and condemnation from
moralising conservatives. See preview.
; ('ume.) 1. Sun 18 Aug.
6. 45pm and Cameo 2.
Wed 2] Aug. 9pm.
I Young Soul Rebels
Risingblack British filmmaker lsaac Julien
took the International
Critics Prize at Cannes
' with this chronicle of
funky DJs. racial harassment and sexual tension amidst the ﬂagwaving fervour of the W77 Jubilee. Sec feature. Cameo I. Sat 17, 8. 45pm.
6.0The List 16— 22 August 1991
Derek Jarman’s version of The Tempest may have had its thunder stolen this month by Peter Greenaway‘s rather more high-gloss version. but Jarman will be stealing some of his own back with his very individual treatment of Marlowe's Edward II. In the wake of his highly personal. very free-form tour de
force The Garden. Jarman returns to
the literary ground he last exploited in War Requiem. this time to reclaim Marlowe's ambivalent chronicle of an English king and his court favourite. Ambivalent because the play. with its notorious ‘death by poker‘ climax. has often been read conservatively as the story of a politically and sexually corrupt king brought to justice by the forces of order. It can also be read. as Jarman does here. as a story of private passion being repressed by heterosexual state orthodoxy.
Jarman and his co-writers Stephen McBride and Ken Butler have turned Marlowe's text inside out. doing for it what Charles Marowitz famously did for Hamlet with his subversive cut-and-paste version in the 60s. Thanks to a host of flashbacks. ellipses and textual trips and tucks. the cell where Edward languisth becomes the centre of the play. the place of his memories and imaginings. while the political cross~Channel to-and-froing that weighs down the original gives way to a sometimes dreamlike staged
ritual. Jarman makes the most ofa shoestring budget — £800,000 including BBC funding— to stage the whole play on Christopher llobbs's highly adaptable single set. an austere. cavernous space that does service as the dungeon. the court and the coast where Edward's lover l’iers (iaveston is whipped by raging elements.
A restricted palette and a considerable degree of anaehronism in props. costumes and political connotations turn the original play — ‘fairly indigestible.‘ Jarman admits — into somethingaltogether different. A people‘s revolt becomes an ()utrage! demo. dance troupe DVB
lend support to a masque scene. Annie Lennox sings Edward‘s lovesick blues and Tilda Swinton's Queen is imagined as a cross between Margaret Thatcher. lvana Trump and (irace Kelly.
The film is certain to raise as many hackles as Jarman‘s offerings usually do. and theatre purists will be especially disturbed. It will be interesting to hear what Ian McKellen — the object of .larman‘s recent political ire and a one-time Edward himself— makes of it. but you can bet Kenneth Branagh won't like it. (Jonathan Romney) Edward I I . Cameo 1, Fri 1 (r A 11g. 8.45pm.
You’ve BBC Scotland to thank for
scheduling a boating regatta from deepest Teuchtershire in place of Needle, Iastyear'sJimmy McGovern BBCZ Screenplay, for as a result, viewers in this part of the network were deprived the opportunity of keeping tabs on the work of an increasingly assured Scots director in Gillies Mackinnon. Previously responsible for the near-miraculous shoestring film adaptation of Manfred Karge’s Traverse hit The Conquest of the South Pole, he's just completed anotherfilm forthe BBC Screen Two slot; a version of John Healy’s autobiography The Grass Arena in which the former parkbench wino traces his reformation through the new addiction of the chess board. And the ways of the men at Queen Margaret Drive being what they are, you might well be advised to catch it now when it screens as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival's New British Cinema strand in competition for the second Michael Powell Award.
On screen for much of the running time, Mark Bylance virtually lives the
part of Healey himself, creating a touching but not overly sentimental portrayal of a repressed, deeply underconfident man who submerges himself in a whirlpool of drink and random violence as some way of assuaging the self-loathing anxiety hanging over his every waking moment. A battered childhood, the constant threat of psychopathic brutality from his fellow drinking
‘ partners, the glacial oneupmanship of
the British class system: Frank Deasy's script makes clear the various tensions that bully a human being towards self-destruction before victory after victory on the chess circuit begin to give him some notion of his owri worth. As in Conquest and Needle, Mackinnon again resists the easy option of unobtrusively recording the action in the ‘social conscience’ style much beloved of the TV drama-documentary. Instead, he displays no little bravura in moving the camera to make it work forthe material at hand, a carefully thought-out use of looming overhead views, diagonals peering down on the protagonist and towering crane shots cumulatively evoking in formal terms Healy's aching sense of oppression. About to make his mainstream feature breakthrough with Aidan Quinn and Albert Finney in Playboys, financed by US independent Goldwyn Pictures and currently shooting in Ireland, Mackinnon is definitely a name to watch. (Trevor Johnston) The Grass Arena, Filmhouse 1, Tue 20 Aug, 8.45pm.