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Jubilee (1978)


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!

Tudor England. A dwarf maidservant leads three Great Danes through a typically high-hedged English garden. It is the time of Elizabeth the First, and the Queen asks her courtiers that the angel Ariel be called forth. He duly appears and promises to reveal "the shadow of this time".

A post-holocaust urban landscape, with punks fighting, gunfire cracking and looters thieving accessories from dead bodies. Miss Amyl Nitrate, in red and black face paint, and wearing a twin set and pearls, is writing her history of the world. "Make desires reality", she implores her young punky audience, telling them that if you get your desires, you don't need art.

This is a future beyond law and order, where no crimes are recorded. Amyl shares a squat with Bod, a handsome murderess, Chaos, a neglected French au pair, Mad, a chunky punk singer and pyromaniac, and a boy couple called Angel and Sphinx who rarely emerge from the bed.

Queen Elizabeth and entourage travel in time to this despotic, post-industrial wasteland. Meanwhile, Crabs, a female hustler , tries to pick up Kid, a new punk star on the block, if indeed the idea of a block still exists in a place where "the music industry is dead" and, what's more, "America is dead". Viv, a posh-voiced artist, declares, "Painting's extinct, art isn't" and ends up in bed with Sphinx and Angel singing old English ballads about red red roses. The squatters like to watch Top of the Pops, play Monopoly, make tea and suffocate any male Crabs lures in for sex.

Media mogul Borgia Ginz auditions punk bands and controls the press. His motto is, "As long as the music's loud enough, we won't hear the world falling apart". Back in Tudor times and the sweetly Elizabethan language of metaphysics and poetry. Back to the future, there's the clumsy disposal of the dead body of the punk singer Borgia auditioned earlier.

The squatters take a ride in a stolen car to visit a man called Max who tends plastic flowers. One of the squatters tells how he didn't see a flower till he was four and then it frightened him. Bod, meanwhile, has to top up her killing quota - calling herself Miss Slaughter, she chokes the unsuspecting transvestite singer Lounge Lizard to death while he's singing along to his own TV performance. The Queen arrives and wonders about the corpse and if God is dead.

Borgia decides to leave the theatre and go into the carpark business. Angel, Sphinx, the Kid and Viv go for an innocent game of Bingo and the boys get shot by Special Branch. Back at the squat, Amyl and Mad are fencing and fighting over history. Viv comes back alone and cries over her dead lovers. Mad and Amyl take off for revenge and find it: a Special Branch man gets bombed.

Borgia takes all the squat girls to his mansion in army-controlled Dorset, "the only safe place to live".