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Last of England, The (1987)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

England in the 1980s. Late at night: Derek Jarman, in his Bankside studio, works on a scrapbook. A young man, Spring, injects himself with heroin and wanders through an urban wasteland. He discovers a life-size reproduction of Caravaggio's painting Love Conquers All and masturbates to it in a narcotic reverie. A home movie shows a young Jarman playing with his sister. Spring sits on a garbage dump, playing panpipes. A man walks around aimlessly, agonised by memories of a young woman, who is depicted in flowery fields. The man is executed and she re-appears as the bride of another man, a refugee from a camp.

Sunset in Docklands: a dog licks the blood that spatters the ground after another terrorist attack. Spring walks the crowded streets of New York. Back in London: Jarman paints in his studio. An archaeologist excavates a skull as a half-naked androgyne is depicted, rotating a globe with evil laughter. Frightened refugees huddle together, watched by the terrorists. A naked homeless man eats a cauliflower and then vomits it back up; a drunk young man and a masked commando make love on a Union Jack flag. Shots from home movies filmed in India appear, inter-cut with a male ballerina and a group of naked people dancing around a fire.

Three women emerge, dressed in black and carrying a wreath. They engage in a conversation with the terrorists about Britain's role in the Falklands war. A crying baby is covered by the pages of The Sun, which refer to the war with the 'Argies'. A warehouse interior: the bride and groom are portrayed at a grotesque wedding ceremony, accompanied by three bearded bridesmaids. On a deserted beach, the bride dances in a daze. She is crying and tearing her wedding gown to shreds, while images of her now dead husband are shown. The bride, on board a boat, abandons England with a group of other emigrants.