I’ve loved Surrealism since my teens when I first came across works by Max Ernst, Salvador Dali and Magritte. Seeing this film had a huge impact on me. So much so that I’ve had three framed images of the slicing of the eye on my living room wall since moving to my present house over 40 years ago. I have no idea what our son or visitors think. The scene of the man dribbling as he caresses the woman’s breasts and buttocks was incorporated into a video used for some Chris & Cosey music gigs. I’ve never felt inclined to analyse the possibly Freudian symbolism of the evocative black and white images or seek any kind of narrative. I’m happy to accept Bunuel and Dali’s irrational approach and enjoy their dreamlike, nightmare shock horror strangeness.
In The Shadow Of The Sun is a compilation of some Super-8 films Derek shot between 1972 and 1975. His intention was create a dreamlike atmosphere of drifting but random images and non linear narrative rather like Bunuel and Dali for Un Chien Andalou. But there the similarities between the two ‘arthouse’ films ends. Firstly Derek’s film is in colour and very painterly. He used various experimental techniques: slow motion, double exposures, overlaid visuals, many of which have become iconic Derek Jarman images. The overarching theme is fire and the sun. It begins with a car journey to the location, the Neolithic stone circles at Avebury not far from the ancient Stonehenge site. Here there are numerous tableaux in which mysterious looking and masked characters perform what appear to be occult, alchemical rituals, a source of inspiration for Derek. The shifting ghostly mystical scenes are mesmerising. I knew Derek back in the late 1970s when Throbbing Gristle were active. In 1980 he asked us to compose a soundtrack to this film. It seemed a novel idea and huge honour and we approached it as a special ritual in itself by recording it in an old mortuary very late at night to create an eerie atmosphere. We took all our audio equipment and instruments to the ‘studio’ and recorded ourselves improvising live as we watched the film on a small TV monitor. The film premiered with our TG soundtrack at the Berlin Film Festival in 1981. Since then as part of Throbbing Gristle I’ve performed a live improvised soundtrack to the film numerous times. Each one has been different with the visuals inspiring a different musical direction.
12/09 • 18h15 • Screen 100
Screening presented by Cosey Fanni Tutti