Edward II

Film Review by Michael Gillespie | 27 Feb 2010
  • Edward II
Film title: Edward II
Director: Derek Jarman
Starring: Steven Waddington, Andrew Tiernan, Tilda Swinton
Release date: March 1 2010
Certificate: 15


“When truth becomes legend, print the legend,” said John Ford, and while he couldn’t have been further as a filmmaker from the director of Edward II, Derek Jarman nonetheless takes his cue for this angry and impassioned and highly imaginative take on the play by Christopher Marlowe and the life of the titular monarch. While historians can argue heartily over the accuracy of either work, Jarman was far more interested in crafting a tale of persecution, prejudice and martyrdom. Why? Well for a start (as Peter Tatchell points out on the accompanying documentary), Thatcher’s government had made second-class citizens of the LGBT community, and the director’s use of anachronistic imagery (riot police, Outrage campaigners, Annie Lennox singing Cole Porter) gives the piece a devastating urgency. Budgetary constraints gave the film its identity, but also made Gary Oldman and Tim Roth unaffordable, resulting in a gravitas vacuum in its leads (though Waddington and Tiernan give solid performances). Nevertheless, a fine piece of work.