Derek Jarman had two gardens. One was in Dungeness, he started to work on it after being diagnosed with HIV. ''The gardener digs in another time, without past or future, beginning or end,'' he wrote in his journal. The other one, this film, opens with images of a man sleeping on a desk, his face resting on an open notebook as a voice proclaims ''I want to share this emptiness with you,'' before a series of vignettes begins in which hallucinations of a two-man-Eden become progressively unravelled. This is a cinema of ecstasy; extinction looms from all sides, friends die silently, queer bodies are whipped, hanged, stoned and chased by cameras. There is the growing impression that representation means violence, means imprisonment. But this is also a cinema of sharing, stemming from the hope that it is indeed possible to share one's dreams, failures, uncertainties and cares. Jarman repeatedly shows himself tending the garden and offers us snapshots of mushrooms, stones, butterflies, poppies, snails, crows, clouds, embraces and music: a whole ecology of images.
by Derek Jarman
with Tilda Swinton, Johnny Mills, Kevin Collins, Pete Lee-Wilson, Spencer Leigh, Jody Graber, Roger Cook, Jessica Martin, Philip Macdonald
United Kingdom 1990 English 95’ Colour


  • Tilda Swinton (Madonna)
  • Johnny Mills (Lover)
  • Kevin Collins (Lover)
  • Pete Lee-Wilson (Devil)
  • Spencer Leigh (Maria Magdalena / Adam)
  • Jody Graber (Boy)
  • Roger Cook (Christus)
  • Jessica Martin (Singer)
  • Philip Macdonald (Joseph/Jesus)


Director Derek Jarman
Cinematography Christopher Hughes
Editing Peter Cartwright
Music Simon Fisher Turner
Producer James Mackay
Digital Restoration British Film Institute
Halo Post London

World sales

Basilisk Communications

Produced by

Basilisk Communications


Derek Jarman

Born in Northwood, Middlesex, England in 1942. He studied English and History, then Painting. After his studies, he initially worked as a costume and set designer for the Royal Ballet. In the early 1970s, he was responsible for production design for Ken Russell’s The Devils (GB 1971) and was the set designer for Russell’s Savage Messiah (GB 1972). In 1976, he made his first feature-length film, Sebastiane. Derek Jarman died in 1994.


1976 Sebastiane; 85 Min., co-directed by Paul Humfress 1977 Jubilee; 103 min. 1979 The Tempest; 95 min. · Broken English; 12 min. 1980 In the Shadow of the Sun; 54 min., Forum 1981 · Psychic Rally In Heaven; 8 min. · A Room of One's Own; 10 min. 1983 The Dream Machine; 34 min., Panorama 1987 · Pirate Tape; 16 min., Panorama 1987 · Waiting for Waiting for Godot; 18 min. 1984 Imagining October; 27 min. 1985 The Angelic Conversation; 84 min., Panorama 1985 1986 Caravaggio; 90 min., Competition 1986 · The Queen is Dead; 13 min. 1988 The Last of England; 87 min., Forum 1988 1989 War Requiem; 92 min., Competition 1989 1990 The Garden; 92 min., Forum 1991 1991 Edward II; 90 min., Forum 1992 1993 Wittgenstein; 72 min., Panorama 1993 · Blue; 76 min.

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2019