There are so many ways to celebrate Gay Pride, but nothing deserves first place other than Edward II, the new Queer Cinema landmark film that Film Movement is making available for the first time on Blu-Ray in a stunning digitally restored version. This special edition includes the featurette “Derek’s Edward” and an essay by filmmaker Bruce LaBruce with a prologue by Tilda Swinton. Celebrate the flick on June 12, when it flies into stores.
In 1593, Christopher Marlowe penned Edward II, based on the life of Britain’s only openly gay monarch. In 1991, legendary artist and director, Derek Jarman radically adapted the Elizabethan drama in a highly-stylized feature starring Jarman and Oscar-winner Tilda Swinton and Steven Waddington.
Jarman’s postmodern adaptation delivers filmgoers to the court of Plantagenet King Edward II (portrayed by Waddington), a weak gay monarch with a tenuous grasp on the throne. The stage is set for palace revolt when the King rejects his wife, Queen Isabella (Swinton), and takes a male lover, the ambitious commoner Piers Gaveston (Andrew Tiernan) upon whom he bestows gifts and power. The spurned Queen and the sober court officials become enraged and the plotting begins in this festival favorite, a Golden Lion nominee at Venice, called “intelligent and striking” and a “phantasmagoric, outrageously stylized interpretation”. With anachronistic imagery, gay activists battling riot police and a rare film appearance by Annie Lennox singing Cole Porter’s 1944 classic “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye,” the story of Edward and the persecution he suffered is given contemporary resonance in one of Jarman’s most powerful and personal films. He died in 1994, at the age of 52.