Derek Jarman • United Kingdom • 1989
A spectacular interpretation of an orchestral masterpiece.
A moving interpretation of composer Benjamin Britten's groundbreaking 1961 orchestral masterpiece. Just as Britten combined the sacred Latin Requiem Mass with the searing unromantic war poetry of British infantry lieutenant Wilfred Owen, who was tragically killed in the final week of WWI, Jarman interprets Britten's six movements in eye-popping and heartbreaking dialogue-free tableaux illustrating war's infinite futility, sacrifice, and waste.
Starring Tilda Swinton and Laurence Olivier in his final screen appearance, War Requiem boldly combines archival footage of war's devastation with Jarman's keen and gifted eye for both the theatrical and the political. Derek Jarman’s definitive condemnation of war premiered at Berlin, Toronto, São Paulo and San Francisco.