Back in 1991, Christopher Marlowe‘s notorious 16th century play was radically adapted into this gay cinema masterpiece by the late, great queer iconoclast Derek Jarman – and it’s easily one of his most powerful films.
Using anachronistic imagery, modern dress, gay activists battling riot police and Annie Lennox singing Cole Porter, the story of Britain’s only openly gay monarch and the persecution he suffered is given a contemporary resonance by Jarman, paralleling the injustice with prevailing modern-day homophobia.
King Edward II (Stephen Waddington) rejects his cold wife Queen Isabella (Tilda Swinton) and takes a male lover, the commoner Piers Gaveston (Andrew Tiernan) upon whom he bestows gifts and power. The King’s behavior enrages the sober, business-suited court officials and the spurned queen becomes a seething monster whose dresses and jewelry grow more outrageously lavish as her need to vengeance escalates and the plotting begins.
Not only one of director Derek Jarman‘s greatest, Edward II is one of the best examples of the “New Queer Cinema” movement of the early 90s. Jarman reworked Marlowe‘s play into a homoerotic, sexually charged, radically relevant work – and it’s just as powerful today. Graphic, brutal, moving, surprisingly funny and always erotic, the film blends prose with contemporary jargon and costumes, replete with positive portrayals of queer sex, profanity and ACT- UP activists for a truly mesmerizing experience.
Brilliant, daring and innovative, Edward II showcases gay cinema at its finest. Newly restored by Film Movement for a lavish, brand-new Special Edition release, it’s a must-own gem for serious film-lovers. Enjoy the original trailer below and click here to pre-order your copy.