War Requiem

DVD Rating: ***1/2

Reviewed by: Adam Micklethwaite

Read Adam Micklethwaite's film review of War Requiem
War Requiem

This boxset, lovingly remastered and released to mark the 20th Anniversary of Jarman’s film, is a package which should please both long-term admirers of the film and those who are approaching it for the first time. Comprising three additional features, the DVD includes a film commentary by producer Don Boyd, a piece about the 2008 performance of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem filmed in Liverpool earlier this year and a featurette entitled Requiem for Jarman.

This feature is a recently filmed talking heads documentary about the making of the film 20 years on, interspersed with clips from the movie. Something is perhaps lost in the interim (footage of Jarman’s thoughts on the film are conspicuously absent, for example) but nevertheless it’s an insightful exploration of the genesis of the film, whose authenticity is greatly aided by the appearance of producer Don Boyd alongside Nathaniel Parker and Tilda Swinton. Doubtless this is a production aimed mainly at Jarman devotees and, as such, it suffers from the sycophancy common to these trips down memory lane, but it still holds up as an insightful introduction to the film. The production values are higher than is often the case with ‘making of’ features and, at 36 minutes in length, it gives the impression of being well-considered, rather than rushed.

Copy picture

The feature on the performance of Britten’s War Requiem at Liverpool Cathedral is not wholly engaging unless you are interested purely in the mechanics of Britten’s composition. Personally I found it a little dry, and while it is clearly relevant to an understanding of Britten’s work and its relation to Jarman’s imagery, I felt that it added little to my appreciation of the film.

In contrast, the commentary from Don Boyd is much more relevant to an understanding of the film’s imagery and the composition of the film, although it has the unfortunate side-effect of relegating the music to the background. This is an invaluable feature for serious devotees of the film, but equally a very useful tool for those of us who want to know about the genesis of a particular scene in this rich, complex cinematic tapestry.

Reviewed on: 21 Nov 2008
Share this with others on...
War Requiem packshot
An enigmatic and visually powerful statement against war.
Amazon link

Product Code: 2NDVD3148

Region: 2

Ratio: 16:9

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Film commentary, War Requiem Live in Liverpoool, Requiem For Jarman

Search database: