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The Angelic Conversation1985

  • 2.6
Derek Jarman's lyrical celebration of gay love set within the context of a series of William Shakespeare’s sonnets. Ethereal Super-8 images slowed to a magical, meditative pace follow the love affair between two men as Dame Judi Dench provides a soothing presence with her narration of the fourteen sonnets. The disruption of the narrative with images of barren and threatening landscapes echoes perfectly the exaltation and torment explored in the works. Polished off with dreamlike music by Coil, Jarman’s most cherished film is an intoxicating portrait of love.

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Member Reviews (13)

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top reviewer

A bit of an oddity - in that you can't (clearly) define, or critique, in a usual manner. While you can't fault it technically, it is - as several reviewers noted, "tedious" (in too many places) - even, apparently, to those who loved some of the more erotic aspects. In other words, you'd have to be a real fan of Jarman &/or such fair, to enjoy the whole package. Some quite attractive young men and, as said, some erotic scenes. But, overall not enough of same to hold any but the devotee. Unlike one reviewer, I didn't find Ms. Dench's narration either muffled or hard to understand. To the contrary - other than two or three quite appealing lads, Dame Judi was probably the strongest - certainly the most winning, feature... However, overall - you are forewarned.

top reviewer

I started it but had to stop before 10 minutes in. I grew impatient with the fact that I couldn't make out half of what Judi was saying. The film sounds overwhelmed her voice that already had a muffled quality. I may return to the film but I confess the beginning is quite incomprehensible unless to portray the burdensome barrenness of life without love.

While I am a Derek Jarman fan, The Angelic Conversation is my least favorite of his feature length films· I have watched it several times both using my personal dvd and streaming on Fandor. There is not just one thing (which I often would minimize its importance), but a collection of issues (often very personal)· The concept of using the Shakespeare love sonnets as the arch of the film is beautiful; unfortunately Shakespearian spoken language is difficult for me to understand and English subtitles were not available-the problems is not with Judi Dench's near perfect timbre or diction, though· I suggest downloading the text of the sonnets· Even with the text in front of me, Jarman's images often seemed disconnected from the words· Jarman seems to find little joy in love or love-making· Phillip Williamson and Paul Reynolds are mostly expressionless· They remind me of high-fashion models with their pouty faces· Even when one of them is frolicking in the water, he does not seem to be having fun-instead he is just going through a series of poses for the cameraman· Jarman's use of slow motion stop photographic techniques is interesting at first, but not too far into the film begins to grow annoying, and by its end gave me a headache· Finally, while I usually am appreciative of "modern" music, Coil's music for Angelic Conversation often seemed disconnected from both the poetry of the images and spoken word·

Why do they only have one star as lowest rating here. This mess should have a minus star rating.

Too abstract and uninteresting focus and topic and subject matter brought a dislike for this film.

Best vied stoned!

not for me. Music / Shakespeare did not care for, waste of Dame Judith Densh


"What is your substance? Whereof are you made that millions of strange shadows on you tend?"

became tedious

Very tedious movie - a complete waste of time.

Boring, and trife!

I love the way it was presented...well done