Jubilee - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Jubilee Reviews

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bbcfloridabound
Super Reviewer
September 30, 2013
This must be my week of crap movies, I'm going to be honest right from the start: I've only seen two films from the late Derek Jarman, this and The Last of England (1987). And I must say that neither of them made much of an impression on me. Jubilee tells the disjointed story of Queen Elizabeth I, who bored by her own existence has her court astrologer and an angel invent a time travel devise that will allow her to travel forward to twentieth century Britain. Once again Jarman revels in pointing out the failings in modern British culture, from the violent punk scene that the main characters are part of, to the harsh severity of the music industry and corporate big business. This has no precedence over the plot, because Jubilee has no plot, just a rambling incoherent mish-mash of filth and vulgarity, which Jarman seems to think will help drive his message of a Britain on the brink of self-destruction home. Jubilee is a film that so obviously wanted to be hip it hurts, looking back it seems Jarman took everything that was just about to explode into the public conscious and structured a highly self-indulgent story around it. So we are shown one of the most miss-representative looks at punk one could ever imagine, and a cast that reads like the who's-who of seventies underground celebrities (Richard O Brien rubs shoulders with the likes of a chubby Toyah Wilcox and a pre-fame Adam Ant). Jarman was clearly pandering to his overly inflated ego, after his gay swords and sandals "epic" Sebastiane (1976) was hailed a modern classic. Jubilee is yet another product of art-house cinema gone wrong and film-making in it's most brash and unsubtle form. 1 Star 9-29-13
Super Reviewer
July 5, 2009
weird weird weird British stage show and street trash exhibition. I'm a Toyah fan so had to see this movie.
Super Reviewer
August 6, 2007
Great set-up, not so great outcome. Definitely worth watching once if you're even slightly interested in weird films or punk rock, but perhaps not a second time (though I suppose you'd really need a second watch to fully understand this film).
Super Reviewer
September 9, 2006
This is a pretty odd film. Not one i would watch again
Super Reviewer
December 15, 2011
Interesting if flawed, "Jubilee" is director Derek Jarman's arty look at UK punks and urban decay. His detached stance seems somewhat ambivalent -- does he regard these flamboyant brats as an antidote to modern society or a mere symptom of it?

With its day-glo characters and derelict locations, the film isn't out to create a realistic, metropolitan environment -- often, the actors just recite history or philosophy for the camera and serve as conduits for Jarman's thoughts. What passes for "plot" is strictly secondary, as various play-like vignettes are spliced together in collage. The motley cast includes the adolescent Toyah Willcox (relentlessly obnoxious and barely recognizable), the pre-fame Adam Ant, Little Nell (yes, from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show"), Ian Charleson (half the film passed before I realized he starred in "Chariots of Fire" just a few years later) and Jenny Runacre (the group's aloof, glamorous matriarch). Willcox, Wayne County, Adam & the Ants (minus their later New Romantic frills) and Siouxsie & the Banshees are among the onscreen musical contributors, while Brian Eno adds ambient score. The Slits also make a quick cameo. Yet the centerpiece tune comes from a novice: the one-named Jordan (known here as "Amyl Nitrate"), who struts through sort of an operatic, reggae version of "Rule Brittania."

The abusive Willcox has the juiciest part, but the most coherent plot thread is the stardom quest of a handsome ingenue (Ant) and his subsequent exploitation by a leering media impresario (the ridiculously overacting "Orlando"). Elsewhere, the sociopathic Nell, Willcox and Runacre collaborate on a few thrill killings, while the depraved proceedings are coolly observed by a time-traveling Queen Elizabeth I (Runacre again), her court astrologer (Richard O'Brien, also from "Rocky Horror") and the spooky, dark-eyed angel they have summoned as a guide. This trio functions as a narrative frame and one suspects that, given a choice, Jarman would rather live in their past era of magic and elegant costumes.

Many British youths disliked "Jubilee" (punk-fashion icon Vivienne Westwood even ran off a notorious T-shirt decorated with a letter of protest) and it's easy to see why true rockers would prefer a grittier, grubbier work like, say, "Rude Boy." But "Jubilee" remains an intriguing curio that underground-music fans shouldn't miss.
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
½ March 20, 2008
[font=Century Gothic]"Jubilee" starts with Queen Elizabeth I(Jenny Runacre) and her chief astrologer, John Dee(Richard O'Brien), being visited by an angel(Ian Charleson) who offers them a glimpse of a possible future where law and order has broken down, causing not only the end of history(Amyl Nitrite(Jordan) tries to rectify this by writing her own version of events.) but also that of art. Absolute freedom is the rule of the day which is good for personal relations but bad because violence is just as prevalent as sex. No matter what, music goes on, as The Kid(Adam Ant) goes to London to make it big.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]Written and directed by Derek Jarman, "Jubilee" is an oddly beguiling and erotic movie that is purposefully ambivalent about the future, especially the effects of an increasingly irrelevant monarchy. Can it be that a future imagined cannot be any worse than the real one of 1978 with AIDS and Margaret Thatcher?[/font]
Super Reviewer
½ April 27, 2013
Its more graduate school thesis than an actual film. Is it original? Yes, but its still mostly just a collection of images and ideas without much of a through-line.
Super Reviewer
½ April 15, 2008
This film is very "punk" and definitely a product of the time (1977) it was made.
Great music in it, and a score by Brian Eno.
On the surface it seems like a bunch of rag-tag individuals fucking about, but there's alot of comment and satire in it. Even toward the sub-culture it's glorifying.
Where else will you see a gritty future, inhabited with punks, the clergy owning everything and all this being discovered by Queen Elizabeth 1.
littlecharmer1959
Super Reviewer
February 6, 2008
Anyone interested in British punk should watch this. Jubilee features some of the leader figures of British Punk including Adam Ant, Jordan, Little Nell, Toyah Wilcox, Wayne County, Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Slits. Bizarre, violent and weird Jubilee takes Queen Elizabeth 1st and transports her to 1978 Britain where we meet all the strange characters of the scene. Defiantly not one for everyone, you'll ethier love it or hate it, but if you are interested in Punk or obscure art movies then you have to see this.
½ December 12, 2015
Jubilee is a postmodern look at 1970s England, Jarman imagining a universe where those of the underground have taken over and left the world in ruin. Queen Elizabeth I is transported to this period by a spiritual being who shows her that England as she knows it is gone, and that the survivors are ballet dancers and punk rockers who flit around in the burning remnants of its historical and cultural influences. A gang of these people work together in a musical group, powerful women who use men as sexual objects before offing them and pal around with a couple of incestuous brothers, all while railing against any sort of established set of mores while simultaneously trying to achieve stardom.

This sounds completely insane, and it is, but that insanity is put to good use. Jubilee satirizes British power structures and cultural hierarchies (the media, the aristocracy, the military, the police) and operates as a tribute to the underground and anti-establishment nature of punk rock and of the oppressed minorities who contribute to the genre. More than anything, it captures the essence of this lifestyle, featuring a few of its actual members (including Jayne County, the first of rock's transgender singers). It's gorgeous, but the movement doesn't get off without Jarman pointing out their own racial ignorances and the hypocrisy of those who eventually sign on to major labels to the tune of millions while simultaneously decrying the wealthy and powerful.

I didn't watch this immediately after Haynes' Velvet Goldmine (another look at one of Britain's outsider-turned-mainstream rock genres) knowing that they'd be so similar, and while it pains me to compare two visionaries with such distinct concepts of their respective subjects, I have to say that Jarman's depiction is ultimately the better film. It captures the spirit of the punk lifestyle without stylish camera tricks, without a big budget (Jarman apparently had to starve himself to get this thing finished), and without sacrificing a tight narrative for the sake of visual ambition.
June 3, 2014
One of the most accessible of Jarman's films; surreal and audacious, with Jordan's "Rule Britannia" a highlight.
January 17, 2014
flawed but still worth a look at late '70's UK besides any pic that can reference Shakespeare and Siouxsie and the Banshees can't be bad right?
October 7, 2013
Odd little film.

Intriguing without being compelling, Jubilee showcases derelict England and punk culture. It's best viewed as a sequence of vignettes, linked by recurring characters. Attempting to find a typical plot arc will yield disappointment.

It's a film that holds the viewer at arm's length, yet still manages to reveal a variety of interesting characters. The scenarios aren't too interesting by themselves, but become relatively engaging by the way characters interact.

It's still a film you have to work to like, but some excellent musical showcases do a good job of helping to smooth the ride.
November 9, 2012
A true work of art. This strange experimental film is more like a painting than a film. Think Alejandro Jodorowsky gone post-punk. Experimental post-modern philosophical mind-fuck madness, 1970's British post-punk fashion, staged in post-apocalyptic hallucinatory settings. This film will forever influence my thinking as an experimental artist, as Derek Jarman has pushed boundaries into an abyss of newly found territory. Jarman has also worked with experimental musicians Throbbing Gristle on a super-8 project entitled 'In the Shadow of the Sun', and has been pushing boundaries long before 'experimental' became an entity of its own. One of the greatest filmmakers of the genre.
½ January 16, 2011
You had me at "Queen Elizabeth and John Dee time travel with an archangel to a futurist dystopia overrun by cockney punk rock kids." Only...when I finally watched it it was pointless, meandering, and hollow. Albeit beautiful to look at. I'd love a still of that burning baby carriage shot against a decaying urban landscape.
August 15, 2010
Its a self indulgent artsy fartsy artifact from a bygone era, but its also filled with eye catching imagery and a catchy punk soundtrack.
August 6, 2010
A truly anarchic deconstruction of bourgeois values and society--a punk/new wave battle cry against the establishment. Jarman artfully combines musical performances with an almost post-apocalyptic narrative to explore the underside of British society. To enact his critique, the film has Ariel (the spirit from Shakespeare's The Tempest) transport the original Queen Elizabeth from her own 16th Century time into a bombed out/punked out British wasteland, a civilization that has been taken apart at the seams by anarchist punks like the main characters of the film. LIke a Burroughs or Ballard novel, Jubilee functions most cohesively as a series of tableaux, and like those authors its power can be drained at times because it gets a bit repetitive in its anarchic mise-en-scene, yet it is still a powerful piece of cinematic expression that shouts in the face of all those who consider themselves to be "decent people."
March 25, 2010
A truly anarchic deconstruction of bourgeois values and society--a punk/new wave battle cry against the establishment. Jarman artfully combines musical performances with an almost post-apocalyptic narrative to explore the underside of British society. To enact his critique, the film has Ariel (the spirit from Shakespeare's The Tempest) transport the original Queen Elizabeth from her own 16th Century time into a bombed out/punked out British wasteland, a civilization that has been taken apart at the seams by anarchist punks like the main characters of the film. LIke a Burroughs or Ballard novel, Jubilee functions most cohesively as a series of tableaux, and like those authors its power can be drained at times because it gets a bit repetitive in its anarchic mise-en-scene, yet it is still a powerful piece of cinematic expression that shouts in the face of all those who consider themselves to be "decent people."
½ March 5, 2009
The queen of England summons Adam Ant to take her to a future Britian ruled by merciless punk girls. One dances in a lovely sequence dressed as a ballerina round a trash can on fire. Dated, but that should come as no surprise.
January 4, 2009
I made a staunch effort to enjoy this movie. Maybe its just that I wasn't in the mood to watch something of its... nature. Perhaps it was just all the crooked boobs. Something.
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