Directed by Derek Jarman • 1989 • United Kingdom
Starring Nathaniel Parker, Tilda Swinton, Laurence Olivier, Sean Bean
Derek Jarman’s WAR REQUIEM reunites British cinema’s enfant terrible with his muse Tilda Swinton for a spectacular and moving interpretation of composer Benjamin Britten’s groundbreaking 1961 orchestral masterpiece. Britten combined the sacred Latin Requiem Mass with the searing, unromantic war poetry of British infantry lieutenant Wilfred Owen—who was tragically killed in the final weeks of WWI. Jarman interprets Britten’s six movements in eye-popping and heartbreaking dialogue-free tableaux illustrating the war’s infinite futility, sacrifice, and waste. WAR REQUIEM boldly combines archival footage of war’s devastation with Jarman’s keen and gifted eye for both the theatrical and the political as Owen doggedly struggles to survive on the field of battle in defense of a cause rendered unjust by the human toll it takes in the trenches and on the home front.