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Juulia Kalaveinen


This thesis explores the depictions of liminal landscapes in British film director Derek Jarman’s (1942-1994) works: Jubilee (1978), The Last of England (1987) and The Garden (1990). The depictions of nature and landscapes in Jarman’s films are beyond dualist divisions, which gives nature essentially a liminal attribute. Jarman represents landscapes diversely and allegorically; he focuses on landscape as an individual subject, he uses landscapes as a vehicle for socio-political critique, and his depictions of landscapes give them a transformative and healing function. Analysing Jarman’s cinematic landscapes provides an opportunity to investigate the deeper cultural, social and political implications behind the representations of landscape and space, and their relation to the popular culture.

In the first chapter, the concepts of rite of passage and liminality are explained by referring to the anthropological works of Arnold Van Gennep and Victor Turner, and the spatial dimensions of liminality are explored in the context of film. The second chapter explores Derek Jarman’s background as an artist and filmmaker in the 1980’s and 1990’s Britain, focusing on how Jarman has depicted landscape and nature throughout his career, and investigating the methods, influences and reasons that lie behind his depictions. The second chapter’s focus is on the cultural and historical contexts behind representing landscape in painting, philosophy and film by referring to D. Melbye’s and E. S. Casey’s writings, also studying Jarman’s own landscape paintings.

Upon reflecting on the theoretical framework of the functions of rites of passages, liminal places and the use of landscape as an allegory, the third chapter explores how Jarman depicts liminality, and what functions does liminal landscapes and places have in his films. The analyses investigate, how Jarman’s films configure the sacred qualities of the landscapes, analysing what kind of ludic or sacred encounters, or ordeals arise from the liminal landscapes, and what are the reasons behind his depictions.