Jubilee (1978)

“Crying won’t change anything. It’s a negative reaction.”

They say that variety is the spice of life. In a continuing attempt to embrace that variety here with One Movie Each Day, I’ve decided to dedicate each Wednesday review to the stranger side of cinema, the type of movies that I’d never normally watch, but that I’m kind of secretly glad exist. In celebration or in condemnation of the eccentric, the odd, the freaky, the kinky, the ghastly, the freaky, the fearful, the flaky, and the freaky, I now present this, the thirteenth and incredibly aptly named edition of Wednesday Weirdness.

There are weird movies, and then there are movies that are utterly bizarre. Today’s movie, Jubilee is the latter. Released in 1978, (or 1977 according to some sources), it either epitomizes or totally mis-represents the British punk scene in the late 70’s, depending on what source you’re looking at.

I really have had a hard time getting my head around this one, or even figuring out what to say about it. I’ve been sitting here thinking about this review for well over an hour now, and all I’ve written is the first paragraph that you’ve just read. So, I’ve decided that the only to review the movie is just to plow ahead and do it. So my apologies if this review seems a little bit more stream-of-consciousy than normal.

Worst. Batman. Ever.

The movie’s plot, (if it can be called that), begins with Queen Elizabeth I (Jenny Runacre) who because she’s bored or something is transported by her court Alchemist and dwarf lady in waiting and some mysterious character who’s name I didn’t catch into a dystopian alternative version of 1977 where Queen Elizabeth II was apparently killed in a random mugging, a single lunatic controls the media, and gangs of punks alternatively lay around being weird, perform music, wax philosophical, murder pople, and duck from the roaming bands of special police (that show up out of nowhere about two-thirds through he film.) Honestly the plot is pretty thin and disjointed, and its mostly used to provide structure to a series of monologues or dialogues about how awful society is. And then there’s some random violence and random musical numbers.

To the film’s credit most of the musical interludes are pretty good. Really they’re the film’s biggest redeeming aspect. In particular there’s a crazy version of Rule Britania that I would totally pay money for. The film apparently stars a who’s who of the British punk scene at that particular moment, though the only name that I recognized was Adam Ant who plays The Kid, one of the likable characters and possibly the most normal in the movie.

The framing story with Elizabeth and her courtiers seems to come and go, and it really seems like writer/director Derek Jarman forgot about it entirely for long stretches of the film. Actually now that I think about it, this group never interacts at all with any living characters from the rest of the film (only occasionally surveying the aftermath) so I suppose its entirely possible that her storyline was only added after the main body of the movie had already been filmed. I’ve read nothing to indicate that’s the case, but it’s certainly possible.

A party just isn’t a party unless trendy Hitler shows up.

The main action of the film centers around a group of punks named Mad (Toyah Wilcox), Bod (Runacre again), Amyl Nitrite (Jordan), and Crabs (Nell Campbell). They… well honestly I don’t know what their deal is, but they do things. Then at the end they kill a bunch of cops who had killed some of their friends, then drive off to hang out with media mogul Borgia Ginz (Jack Birkett) and… apparently Hitler.

Its all a very strange collection of scenes. There’s a lot of nudity in the movie, but very, very little of it is anyone I’d want to see naked. The violence doesn’t provide much cinematic excitement either. This isn’t a movie I’m ever going to want to watch again. It’s just really really weird, but it’s also pretty damn boring, a difficult combination to pull off. Still, I suppose there are a couple things going for it, its certainly creative, (in as much as its discernible,) and there is some cool music. So I suppose it just barely dodges my “avoid” rating, but it’s not worth seeing, not at all.

[Jubilee (1978) – Directed by Derek Jarman – Not Rated]

OM|ED Rating: Not Worth SeeingWW