Simon Fisher Turner/Derek Jarman-Blue (Mute/Nonesuch 1993)

Simon Fisher Turner’s soundtrack is a momentous one since it serves as an integral element of Derek Jarman’s twelfth and final film. The reason that the soundtrack is so essential to the film is that the entire movie consists of a flickering, amorphous blue screen accompanied by narration by three of his favorite actors: Nigel Terry, John Quentin and Tilda Swinton as well as his own commentary. Jarman’s flickering blue visuals were inspired by French painter Yves Klein and were meant to simulate his own blindness caused by an AIDS-related illness.

I witnessed a screening of Blue at International House in Philadelphia when it was originally released and it devastated me while opening my eyes to possibilities of the soundtrack. In my opinion, this film is impotent on your meager television, but must be seen on a large screen to appreciate the intricacies of the shifting blue canvas on which he documents his final days. It is meant to simulate what he saw as well as his final thoughts before he left this world. Blue is a meditation on death. Blue is a last will and testament of a brilliant filmmaker. Blue’s soundtrack is pretty much the entire movie if you can conjure up a faulty tv to replicate its shimmering decay.

Simon Fisher Turner contributes a suitably ambient soundtrack that adds to the surreal experience of listening to a man narrate his own death. He smartly includes snatches of Brian Eno, Momus, Coil, Satie, Durutti Column, Kate St. John amongst others. It all coalesces into a dream state where Jarman comes to peace with his condition and provides an angelic atmosphere for his eventual demise. It is heartbreaking stuff as well as a courageous statement in an age where many had little empathy for those suffering from HIV. A perfect soundtrack as well as a fitting farewell from a director who turned the lens onto himself.