A singular figure not only in the history of queer filmmaking but of art itself, Derek Jarman made bold, idiosyncratic films that challenged prevailing aesthetic conventions while also becoming improbable box-office successes in his native England. A trained painter who broke into filmmaking designing sets for Ken Russell’s The Devils and Savage Messiah, Jarman began making his own moving image pieces with Super 8 in the 1970s. By the time of his landmark, color-field final film Blue (1993), Jarman was responsible for a one-man, fringe vanguard.
Shot on a shoestring budget and starring such future screen stars as Tilda Swinton (a fixture in Jarman’s work) and Sean Bean, Caravaggio is far from a traditional biopic. An unconventional portrait of a flesh-and-blood Caravaggio, as recounted by the painter from his death bed, the film pays tribute to his sumptuous visual élan while also delving into allegations of crime and blasphemy. Shot entirely in an abandoned warehouse and bathed in the painter’s signature palette, Caravaggio is an elegiac testament to the conflicts between artistic compulsion and private desires. “Jarman’s crowning achievement . . . In every sense a labor of love, Caravaggio evokes both the artist’s imagined underworld milieu and, in a series of extraordinary tableaux, the dramatic chiaroscuro of his art.”—J. Hoberman.
Bing Theater | $5 admission | Tickets: 323 857-6010 or purchase online.