Obituary: Derek Jarman

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Derek Jarman, painter and film- maker: born Northwood, Middlesex 31 January 1942; died London 19 February 1994.

DEREK JARMAN was one of the very few men whom I knew well who set an example for me, writes Don Boyd. Not only did he live his life according to a set of exemplary and yet idiosyncratic guidelines but he also provided inspiration to film- makers now and in the future.

On the personal front Derek was handsome, funny, stimulating intellectually and irrepressibly energetic. His sexual magnetism to men and women alike was legendary. All of these gifts he marshalled for the benefit of others without any selfishness. He loved to share his passionate enthusiasm about life and art and although he had a rigorous critical mind he was never malicious despite his demonic public image. He displayed exquisite old- fashioned British manners (I never heard him use a swearword), but to me his most important personal quality was his enthusiastic generosity of spirit.

For example, he had heard that my daughter Amanda was studying The Tempest for A level, and immediately volunteered to visit her school, Bedales, with Daniel Day- Lewis and Tilda Swinton. He gave his audience an exquisitely humorous dissertation on the play, film- making, Shakespeare, the Elizabethan mathematician and astrologer John Dee, and the actor Terry- Thomas (we had once tried to persuade Terry to play Prospero).

Derek also extended this generosity to his general life. When the financiers reduced their cash commitment to our film War Requiem, he waived his fees to a nominal pounds 1. When I paid this laughable reward for his genius, he symbolically pasted the pounds 1 note on to one of the leaves of his beautiful hand-written and illustrated copy of the script.

On and off the set he always managed to inspire his collaborators, who all willingly stretched themselves to their limits for him. When he and I went to meet Lord Olivier, then aged 81, Derek's enthusiasm lifted the old man so much that we had him spouting forth huge chunks of Henry V and Richard III for our considerable amusement. Derek laughed and laughed.

(Photograph omitted)