The Garden (1990 film)

The Garden
Directed by Derek Jarman
Produced by James Mackay
Written by Derek Jarman
Starring Tilda Swinton
Spencer Leigh
Spring - Mark Adley
Narrated by Michael Gough
Music by Simon Fisher Turner
Miranda Sex Garden
Cinematography Derek Jarman, Christopher Hughes, Richard Heslop
Edited by Derek Jarman, Peter Cartwright, Kevin Collins
Distributed by Basilisk Communications
Release dates
Running time
95 min.
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget GBP£380,000

The Garden is a 1990 British arthouse film by director Derek Jarman produced by James Mackay for Basilisk Communications in association with Channel 4, British Screen and ZDF. It focuses on homosexuality and Christianity set against a backdrop of Jarman's bleak coastal home of Dungeness in Kent,[1] and his garden and the nearby landscape surrounding a nuclear power station, a setting Jarman compares to the Garden of Eden. The film was entered into the 17th Moscow International Film Festival.[2]


Lacking almost any dialogue the film is shown as Jarman's own subjective musings, which are tempered by the reality of his own mortalitywhen HIV-positive Jarman made the film he was facing death from AIDS.

The film follows a seemingly innocent and loving gay couple whose idealistic existence is interrupted when they are arrested, severely humiliated, tortured and killed. In between this are nonlinear images of religious iconography a Madonna (Tilda Swinton) who is overexposed and harassed by paparazzi in balaclavas; a Jesus who painfully watches the world pass him by; a Judas who is hanged and used as a tool to advertise credit cards; and water dropping from an image of Christ on the crucifix. It also focuses on what it means to be gay in the 20th century, highlighting Section 28, of which Jarman was from the start a noted opponent. The film is augmented with unusually tinted shots of beaches and bizarre changes between classical, Cypriot and other types of music and sound. The film has a soundtrack by Simon Fisher-Turner and production design by Derek Brown.

The Garden stars Tilda Swinton, Johnny Mills, Philip MacDonald, Roger Cook, Spencer Leigh, Kevin Collins, Jodie Graber and Jarman himself.

It is currently the only one of Jarman's feature-length films not available on Region 1 DVD.



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