Jubilee (1977) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Tuna's notes

Jubilee (1977) is supposedly a satire of contemporary British society as shown through a gang of post punk women.

Director Derek Jarman started making home movies with his circle of friends, and eventually decided to attempt a feature film outside traditional funding channels, in other words, the first true British indie. He wrote the story, and built a cast comprising friends, people from the punk scene, and a few real actresses whose look he liked.

Elizabeth the 1st asks her court magician for a vision of the future. He obliges by conjuring an angel to lead them into the future, which is a post-apocalyptic world run by frightening gangs of bisexual female punks and equally frightening police. The world is run by a media mogul who owns everything, including all media, Buckingham Palace, and the Church of England. Our tale focuses on a group of female punks led by Bod (Jenny Runacre, who also plays Elizabeth). Members include a French maid, a butch pyromaniac named Mad (Toya Wilcox), a historian called Amyl Nitrate (Jordan), the artist Viv (Linda Spurrier), and a nymphomaniac actress called Crabs (Nell Campbell). The group, joined by "gay lover brothers", spends a lot of time trying to be strange, getting naked, and committing the occasional recreational murder to break the tedium.

Jubilee did enjoy a brief theatrical release, where it was not well received by either the critics or the punk crowd. I won't pretend to understand the message of the film, and I gained no insight into the punk movement or its psychology, but it is not entirely a waste. Over the years it has developed a small but enthusiastic cult following. In addition to the impressive nudity, the film has offbeat energy and very striking visuals, as well it might since it was made mostly by people in the art community.



  • The DVD package is a Criterion release, and includes a featurette about the making of the film, and continuity stills.

  • New high-definition digital transfer, supervised by director of photography Peter Middleton.

  • Original documentary on Jarman and Jubiliee made by Jarman actor Spencer Leigh.

  • Ephemera from Derek Jarman's personal collection.

  • Liner notes by Jarman biographer Tony Peak and cultural historian Jon Savage


  • breasts and bush from Jenny Runacre
  • full frontal and rear from Nell Campbell
  • buns from Jordan
  • breasts and buns from Linda Spurrier.

Scoop's notes

The title of Darek Jarman's Jubilee was inspired by the silver Jubilee of Elizabeth II's reign in 1977, when England seemed to be in its death throes, its industry threatened by economic collapse, and its youth choked with punk disaffection. Jarman wondered what the first Elizabeth might have thought of the reign of her namesake, so the idea behind the film was that Elizabeth 1 would summon her court magicians in 1577 in order to look at the disappointing state of her glorious land in the reign of her namesake, exactly 400 years thenceforth.

The England she is shown by "Ariel," her fairy/angel/magician, is a creepy one dominated by a violent girl gang living in a anarchic urban wasteland in which everything seems to be owned by a media mogul named Ginz. Buckingham Palace has been transformed into a recording studio and Westminster Cathedral into a theme nightclub featuring gay go-go dancers and semi-obscene performances by Christ and the Twelve. Meanwhile, all Jews, blacks, and homosexuals have been banned from Dorset so that Ginz and his rich pals can enjoy the tranquility of the countryside without being bothered by any pesky minority types.

I guess.


I think Liz Uno also time-travels to the reign of Liz Dos. Or maybe the same actress just plays two completely different parts. Or maybe the whole thing is just a dream. Beats me.

Frankly, the execution isn't as good as the premise, and the whole thing is hard to follow because the dialogue is soporific, the plotting is so unfocused as to be incoherent, and the acting is ... um ... expressionistic. Jubilee plays out like one of those underground garage-films from the sixties. In the sections where you are not confused, you'll probably find yourself nodding off to sleep. If you do manage to watch the entire thing without your mind drifting, and you think you can write a better plot summary, please feel free to send it in.

Auteur Derek Jarman has made several other films as well. He made a version of The Tempest, for example, that ends in a formal cotillion in which all the dancers are modern-day English sailors. (No girls allowed in our clubhouse!) That film is so gay it makes the lifetime output of The Village People seem like a Lee Marvin film festival, but Jubilee actually gives The Tempest a run for the money. I don't think I have to tell you much that you can't already imagine about the guy who plays Ariel, but my favorite performance was delivered by an actor named The Incredible Orlando, and he certainly lives up to his name as the media mogul, delivering an incredibly flamboyant performance that would be considered broad at an F-Troop reunion. I'm not sure what the all-time record is for the greatest quantity of over-the-top diabolical laughter from one guy in one movie, but this guy has to be a contender.


Designer Vivienne Westwood despised the movie and said it was merely an excuse for Jarman to be "a gay boy jerking off through the titillation of his masochistic tremblings."

Which was true ...

... not that there's anything wrong with that

... as long as the gay boy in question includes plenty of female nudity to get us other guys through it.

The Critics Vote ...

  • Rotten Tomatoes summary. 78% positive reviews. The reviews range from the lowest possible score to the highest possible!

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, the genre is "cult classic," which is judged by off-beat energy and fan support, and Jubilee has both. Therefore it is a C+. Although we both considered it to be a waste of our time, many others disagree.

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