“Choirs of Wailing Shells”: Poetic and Musical Engagements in Derek Jarman’s War Requiem – between Documentary and Fiction

By Caroline Perret

War Requiem, the film adaptation of Benjamin Britten’s musical piece directed by British film director Derek Jarman, is a case study in the politics of the memory of war, with WWI as its focal point. Made in 1988, the film does not coincide with any specific commemoration, and while being a significant cultural venture in an ambition to challenge consensual memory about war, it is also, I argue, the director’s personal endeavour to understand how history and his family’s past have impacted the development of his own self and his artistic expression.

This work will demonstrate how Jarman’s imaginative representation of WWI takes the form of an accumulation – rather than a confrontation or contradiction – of past representations of this historic moment. Through an unusual interplay between text (the poetry of Wilfred Owen), images (wordless re-enactments of Wilfred Owen’s life events and terrifying archival images of war), and music (the War Requiem by composer Benjamin Britten), the film deconstructs in an experimental fashion the conventionality and illusion of commemorative representations of war as well as their different sites and practices. The film uses a variety of material and sources which are very distinct regarding the level of distance at which they engage with the reality of the atrocities, or the different layers of mediation and vision interposed between beholder and signifier. In this respect, the film questions the memorialisation value and impact of different commemorative tropes, such as poetry, moving images (both documentary and fictional), and music. Through these mechanisms, I will examine how the film appeals to the viewers’ consciousness and criticality as regards these representations, and generates a profoundly significant engagement with the event and the artistry of its re-presentation.

By the time Jarman directed War Requiem, he was an established director of experimental films and had already been involved in the making of several music videos for prestigious singers and musical groups. His engagement with Britten’s musical masterpiece can thus be seen as his desire to bring it to life. In addition, written in the aftermath of WWII, the requiem could be said to echo Jarman’s own traumatic experience of a military hospital, where he spent a few days as a child (he was born in 1942), alongside the wounded of WWII. Moreover, made at the beginning of post-modern theory and aesthetics, the requiem and its anti-war message provided a perfect platform for the development of a subject matter to which Jarman felt personally and politically very close, while exploring the complex interaction between film, music, and poetry. There are indeed few WWI battle scenes in the film, and they occupy the same hierarchical position as scenes from other wars, such as the Angolan Civil War (1975-2002), the Cambodian Civil War (1970-75), and the Vietnam War (1955-75), as well as the bombing of Hiroshima (6 and 9 August 1945). The geographical and temporal scope of documentary extracts demonstrates that Jarman’s film is indeed a plea for world peace.

Lacking simple narrative and continuity, the collage of poetry, images, and music in Jarman’s film does not lead to any real understanding of the historical and political specificities of the wars to which it refers, but this is beyond the point. Through artistic experimentation regarding suffering and violence, Jarman modulates different forms of affects engaging the viewer sensorially to make them experience emotions ranging from intense passion and anger to deeply-felt pity, thus demanding and provoking a moral response. In the words of Judith Butler, “[t]here is no thinking and judgement without the senses, and there is no thinking and judgement about war without the senses assuming a social form […]. Waging war in some ways begins with the assault on the senses; the senses are the first target of war.”[1]

This essay will first look at the different formal and aesthetic strategies used by Jarman to engage the viewer. These include the film’s contrasting structure between documentary and fiction as well as between past and present; its narrating devices, such as the portrayal of fictive characters located in both time periods in the film and Owen’s poem “Strange Meeting”; and the use of photographic pathos in archival stills. In its second section, the essay will examine how the notion of the “re-framing of war” is developed in Jarman’s film in opposition to state propaganda and consensual memory of war through an exploration of Owen’s biography and poem “Anthem for Doomed Youth”, ultimately questioning the notion of war as being a part of human nature, and therefore its necessity. Drawing on this distinction between “good and evil”, the third part will highlight Jarman’s juxtaposition of Britten’s music, Owen’s poem “Anthem for Doomed Youth”, and a complex portrayal of religion, thus establishing a tension between the atrocities of war and religious aspirations. The fourth part of the essay will look at the film as part of a cathartic process for Jarman on a personal, familial, and artistic level.

On a visual level, the structure of War Requiem alternates past and present through flashbacks and flashbacks-within-flashbacks, as well as through spatial and temporal jumps. There is archival material related to the conflict – such as WWI newsreel footage, alongside images of 20th-century wars – on the one side; the fictional love story between British soldier and poet Wilfred Owen (Nathaniel Parker) and the army nurse (Jarman’s muse Tilda Swinton), on the other. This crosscutting creates a contrasting pattern between black and white documentary and the vividly colourful fiction of the love story which highlights the constructed meaning of both types of images for the viewer, who finds him/herself at the centre of a mediated, yet individual, experience of the past.

The use of archival material within the fictional love story in War Requiem recalls a post-modern use of the cuttings of paper and fragments of other material in Pablo Picasso’s and Georges Braque’s late Cubist collages. Such fragments not only act as a reminder of reality and its materiality, but they also make the viewer aware of the artificiality of the film as an artistic construct. According to John Golding, “we identify [the collaged items] without effort, and because they form part of our experience of the material world around us, they make a bridge between our customary modes of perception and the artistic fact as it is presented to us by the artist. […] In Braque’s own words, he introduced foreign substances into his paintings because of their ‘materiality’, and by this he was referring not only to their physical, tactile values, but also to the sense of material certainty they evoked.”[2] In this perspective, Jarman could be said to use archival material within the film as an intellectual and visual device to assert the reality of his vision. As the pseudo-narrative of the film is interrupted by archival footage, we know as viewers that we are confronted with a constructed reality whose deconstructed montage we are required to re-address, like we would the destruction of the world. The archival material also acts as clues to a greater library of horrific imagery, the specificity of which is left to our imagination, an imagination which is sadly guided by the accumulation of images repeatedly viewed in the media.

On a more fundamental level, the contrasting pattern between the archival material and fictional love story brings into play the tension between past and present, the horrors of war and the beauty of love, and life and death. Personal and spectatorial engagement is at its strongest in the sections of the film which focus on the love story between Owen and the Nurse. At the beginning of the film, set in contemporary England, a nurse (Tilda Swinton) pushes the Old Soldier in a wheelchair, a WWI veteran (Laurence Olivier in his final screen appearance). After he has shown her the Edwardian photograph of his departed beloved, to whom the Nurse bears a strong resemblance, the Old Soldier narrates his war memories. Thus the story unfolds through his eyes, as he begins his tale with a stanza from Owen’s poem “Strange Meeting”.

This choice of poem seems to introduce the spectator into a dream-like world of craters, caves, and tunnels, whose Hell is convincingly reflected in the Gothic labyrinth of Dartford’s Darenth Park Hospital where the film was shot. “It seemed that out of the battle I escaped/ Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped/ Through granites which titanic wars had groined”.[3] The poem’s introduction not only sets the scene of conflict on a gigantic scale, but also puts two narrators on stage: Owen himself and the person who delivers his message. The oscillation between the internal first-person perspective and the external third-person perspective in the poem is echoed in the film with the Old Soldier telling the viewer the story of the Owen character, which in turn creates a mise-en-abyme between images and commentary. These devices conduct the viewer to embrace several perspectives and become very active in the constructive process of the story. Jarman’s choice of “Strange Meeting” as the introductory voice to his film therefore denotes a conceptual and formalist approach.

In the documentary part of the film, however, Jarman explores a different aspect of sorrow and relies on a different type of empathy on the part of the viewer. The palpably faded and blurred nature of the archival stills of WWI places the viewer’s position away from a collective commemoration of the past to a mediated, yet individual experience, which eventually results in a lesser distance from the very idea of death. According to Roland Barthes in Camera Lucida, the photographic image is already beyond the present moment to convey the pathos of past times. It “does not necessarily say what is no longer, but only and for certain what has been” (author’s emphasis).[4] It is, by its very nature, located in history, but in this very specific instance, it is also looking implicitly at the perspective of death. This point is also made by Susan Sontag in Regarding the Pain of Others: “Photographs state the innocence, the vulnerability of lives heading towards their own destruction, and this link between photography and death haunts all photographs of people”.[5] This haunting resonance, it would seem, would produce in the viewer an understanding of the vulnerability and finite nature of human life. This characteristic of Jacques Derrida’s concept of “absolute pastness”, to be applied here to the archival footage, would then be the condition for the grievability of its subjects, whose lives are in the process of non-being, and would therefore lead to a compassionate engagement of the viewer.

Having examined Jarman’s use of different formal and aesthetic strategies to engage the viewer in the cinematic process, the essay will turn its attention to his “re-framing of war” through a filmic exploration of Owen’s biography and appropriation of his anti-war poem “Anthem for Doomed Youth”. In the film, the Old Soldier’s wartime memories commence in 1918 with the Nurse weeping over the dead body of Wilfred Owen, whom we then see in his  younger days hanging out the washing with his mother while a young woman arranges a bouquet of flowers in a vase. He is then drafted and goes to fight in the war. Immediately after this scene, we witness the Nurse reading “Anthem for Doomed Youth” over his grave.

These few minutes of the film, a condensation of Owen’s life, summarise the small chances of survival once enlisted: in 1917, the year of Owen’s conscription, the life expectancy of an officer on the front line was measured in days. Indeed, Owen died a year later, at the age of twenty-five. Like all his comrades, he had been completely unaware of the reality of trench warfare, as the newsreels shown of the Front were heavily censored. Indeed, according to Laurent Gervereau in Les Images qui mentent, WWI marks the beginning of what will become “image propaganda”.[6] It is therefore as a reaction against the legitimation and “romanticisation” of warfare by the British nation state and its persuasive military power of the time, to which he had succumbed, that Owen’s poetry developed. After his one-year stay at Craiglockhart Hospital due to shell-shock, where he met anti-war poet Siegfried Sassoon, Owen considered the function of poetry as testimony more important than ever before, because it counteracted state propaganda with what he saw as a necessary anti-war message.[7]

When considering “image propaganda”, it is interesting to note that Owen’s poetry locates itself firmly outside its parameters, as it is sometimes very descriptive of the specificity of war, its weapons, both mechanical and chemical, their effects on the human body and psychology. This is potently the case of “Anthem for Doomed Youth”, which Jarman has directed the Nurse to read over Owen’s grave. Written between September and October 1917 at Craiglockhart Hospital, the sonnet is indeed a mournful elegy to young soldiers, dignifying and celebrating their courage and suffering, whose lives were unnecessarily lost in WWI for the sake of wealthy bankers – which are represented in the film as heavily made-up men. More specifically, the octet consists of a list of deafening sounds of trench warfare – “monstrous anger of the guns”, “stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle”, whose alliteration echoes the sound itself, and “wailing shells”.[8] In his film, Jarman counteracts the absence of the harsh realities of war from state propaganda by presenting the viewer with archival footages of soldiers digging tunnels in the snow, burning cities, and soldiers marching over hills and preparing for battle. According to Judith Butler, the state regulates the public reception and understanding of violence by framing a certain version of reality. In this perspective, she suspects that the framing act becomes a part of “the materiality of war and the efficacy of its violence”.[9] In the film, I would argue, Jarman proposes an alternative re-framing of the war, and like Owen, directs the beholder towards a greater understanding of the materiality and violence of war, thus counteracting past and future state propaganda.

Moreover, in addition to re-framing the consensual version of the reality of war, these images have an immediate poignancy, encompassing both life and death at the same time. In several scenes of the film’s fictional part, this tension between life and death is drawn upon  the juxtaposition of childhood innocence and the traumas of war, in particular with the inclusion of Owen’s idyllic childhood sequences, shot on Super-8, albeit reminiscent of his earlier feature film The Last of England (1987): three young children emerge, dressed up in army uniforms, and bury a teddy bear; the Nurse, caring for a wounded soldier at night, observes a young Owen outside the window of the army hospital; the young Owen plays drums and dances with a group of soldiers in drag against a backdrop of the Union Jack; young Owen and his Mother decorate a Christmas tree. Set against the cruelty of war, the images of carefree innocence and everyday gestures explore the human relationship with nature and culture, reminiscent of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s concept of the primordial state of human beings which contains their essential characteristics, the ones that culture will eventually repress or pervert.[10] In this respect, it could be argued that these images of childhood might act as a reminder of men’s primordial goodness which war only perversely subverts.

Following from Jarman’s re-framing and questioning of the war, the third part of the essay will now show how Jarman establishes a tension between the atrocities of war and religious aspirations in his film through a complex juxtaposition of Britten’s musical piece, the final section of Owen’s poem “Anthem for Doomed Youth”, and a subversive portrayal of religion, ultimately evading the reductive notion of “good versus evil”. The film’s soundtrack does not contain any spoken dialogue, but instead uses the choral music and lyrics of Britten’s War Requiem. This includes the “Latin Mass for the Dead” and some of Owen’s poems reflecting the atrocities of war: “Anthem for Doomed Youth”, but also “But I was Looking at the Permanent Stars,” “The Next War”, “Sonnet On Seeing a Piece of our Heavy Artillery Brought into Action”, “The Parable of the Old Man and the Young”, “The End”, “At a Calvary near the Ancre”, and finally “Strange Meeting”.[11] While Jarman establishes a correspondence between archival images and the message of the poetic text, he facilitates a similar dialogue between the final section of Owen’s “Anthem for Doomed Youth” and the music performed in the film. In the poem, the sounds of trench warfare are all set against the restrained atmosphere of the church, with an abundance of religious imagery, symbolic of the sanctity of life and death: the “passing-bells” tolled to announce someone’s death, the “orisons” or funeral prayers, “voice of mourning”, “choirs”, “candles” – which are lit in the room where a body lies in a coffin, “holy glimmers of goodbyes”, “pall” – or a coffin cloth.

This juxtaposition in Owen’s poem suggests the inadequacy and pointlessness of institutionalised religion when confronted with such butchery: the expression “die as cattle” conjures up the image of a slaughterhouse. In particular, the word “mockeries” and the expression “patter out their hasty orisons” seem to articulate such a tension, while “choirs of wailing shells” is an astonishing metaphor uniting both God’s and the Devil’s world. As such, the poem is a clear rejection of religious structures in which Owen was brought up.

Progressively, the poem moves away from the fighting front to funeral rituals with “bugles” commonly played at military funerals conducted by the families of the dead “from sad shires”, the English counties and countryside from which a large proportion of the soldiers came. Tone and pace change from harsh fervour to regretful and solemn reflection, until the poem quietly closes with the “drawing down of blinds”, whose corresponding dimming of the light is echoed in the dusk descending onto earth in a slow, finite gesture, as though to let the dead person lie in peace.[12] [13] This tension between the atrocities of war and religious aspirations can also be found in “Britten’s War Requiem” as described by Peter Evans in the following manner:

The change here is more radical than before, to a new tonal perspective and a new urgent pulse, to the immediacy of solo voice and instruments and the unequivocal directness of the vernacular-Owen’s poem, Anthem for Doomed Youth. The effect is dramatic but not melodramatic: both poet and composer offer a challenge to the luxury of opulent mourning, ‘mockeries from prayers or bells’, that implies a conflict between this and the preceding sections. The athleticism and wiry textures of the new, but related, theme (bass of Ex. 3-also another distant relation of the Sinfonia’s Lacrymosa) seem like a reproach to the heavy propulsion of Ex. i, even though they depict the rifle’s rattle and the wailing of shells.[14]

Just like in Owen’s poem and Britten’s music, Jarman does not seem to find an outlet for human suffering in religion. Accordingly, he shows images of burning cities simultaneously with the choir singing Britten’s Requiem. Moreover, although using oratorios of Britten’s War Requiem sung in Latin as soundtrack and an elaborate Christian iconography, the film inserts interesting twists into Christian motifs and stories, such as the comparison between Owen’s and his fellow soldiers’ fates to Christ’s martyrdom. For instance, when the Unknown Soldier is buried, Owen imagines himself as the Biblical Isaac, whose life, according to the Genesis narrative, had been about to be sacrificed by his own father Abraham in order to prove the latter’s faith to God. In the film, however, he is portrayed lying on an altar with his throat slit by his father, while a group of grotesque-looking men are laughing.

The appropriation of the notion of the grotesque, if associated with the writings of Mikhail Bakhtin, reveals this scene as a transgressive one in that it presents a metaphor for a temporary reversal of order in which the constructed boundaries between symbolic categories of political and religious hierarchy and values are blurred. Rather than presenting an inversion of the status quo, the grotesque thus enables a transgression of the established binary system of representation, as it is a hybrid form containing all these sets of oppositions together.[15] This is why Jarman’s use of Christian iconography appears to be a complex one: while using its aesthetic motifs, it subverts its content. The same subversive process is at play in the cumulative power of two scenes. In the first of these scenes the Nurse, in a white, yet mud- and blood-covered dress, puts a crown of thorns onto the head of the Enemy Soldier, who carries the body of the Unknown Soldier. In the final scene, he himself appears as Christ holding the body of Owen. In a true Nietzschean fashion, these blatantly opposite scenes demonstrate Jarman’s bypassing of the idea of “good and evil” to reveal the destructive impact of war on both sides of the front. This idea is forcibly expressed in the film through the archival footage of conflicts in Cambodia and the nuclear attack on Hiroshima, followed by the image of a large field of skulls.

From the outset of Jarman’s oeuvre, Death had been a guiding philosophical concept developed within a diversity of historical backgrounds, but in War Requiem, I would argue that it took on a personal dimension, as this was Jarman’s first artistic project since he had learnt he was HIV positive (he died six years later). The fourth part of the essay will therefore look at the film as part of a cathartic process for Jarman on a personal, familial, and artistic level.

Jarman’s own father was a Lancaster bomber pilot in the Second World War, and the artist believed that his father’s despair, depression, and violence impacted greatly on his own artistic vision and sense of self. The depression from which his father suffered had been attributed to the feeling that a bomber would experience when surviving his brothers-in-arms and killing innocent civilians. Such notion of survival guilt is explored, I would argue, by Jarman in War Requiem through Owen’s poem “Strange Meeting”, which concludes the film and is the last poem to be quoted in Britten’s Requiem. In Mourning and Melancholia, Sigmund Freud deals with such notion, allocating the role of the super-ego to the process of internalising and transforming the lost other as a recriminating voice. This voice then speaks out exactly what the ego would have said to the other if the latter had stayed alive.[16] This dialogue is precisely what is exerted in “Strange Meeting”. The following lines exemplify this point:

“Strange friend,” I said, “Here is no cause to mourn.”
“None,” said the other, “Save the undone years,
The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,
Was my life also; I went hunting wild
After the wildest beauty in the world,
Which lies not calm in eyes, or braided hair,
But mocks the steady running of the hour,
And if it grieves, grieves richlier than here”.[17]

The sense of guilt is also what seems to be at play in the fictional part of the film when the Unknown Soldier is playing the piano while the Enemy Soldier playfully throws snowballs at him, but Owen misinterprets the Enemy Soldier’s behaviour and shoots him. Before the Enemy dies, he stabs the Unknown Soldier.

This remembering of the past recalls Slavoj Žižek’s idea that “the true choice apropos of historical traumas is not the one between remembering and forgetting them: traumas we are not ready or able to remember haunt us all the more forcefully. We should therefore accept the paradox that, in order to really forget an event, we must first summon up the strength to remember it properly.”[18] Re-enacting a psychoanalytical process in his film, Jarman can only come to terms with his family’s past through the compulsive telling of painful and repressed memories, which are integrated in the film in the present, thus forming an integral part of his identity and sense of self.

This psychological process has been explained by Jacques Lacan in his seminal “The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis”:

Let us not forget that when Freud presents the concept of transference to us, he says – what cannot be remembered is repeated in behaviour. This behaviour, in order to reveal what it repeats, is handed over to the analyst’s reconstruction. § One may go as far as to believe that the opacity of the trauma – […] in my terms, its resistance to signification – is then specifically held responsible for the limits of remembering. And, after all, it is hardly surprising, given my own theorisation, that I should see this as a highly significant moment in the transfer of powers from the subject to the Other, […], the locus of speech and, potentially, the locus of truth.[19]

One cannot but deduce that, through the film, Jarman was attempting to come to terms with his own family’s past, and, through a Surrealist use of the collage technique, to artistically explore his unconscious.

This, I think, is the crux of the matter: while the documentary part of the film brings into play the process of seeing, the fictional narrative exploits the process of telling. Together with the sensuous experience of poetry and music, the act of vision and that of narration on the part of the beholder are two complementary forms in the questioning and understanding of the past and its necessary integration in the development of identities for both the artist and viewer.[20] The remembering of internalised traumatic experiences is thus instrumental in the psychological development and recovery of all involved, be it through musical, literary, or filmic processes. It is by making the mechanism of the constructiveness of the past apparent that Jarman’s venture remains contemporary, as the viewer can apply this process of deconstruction to all social, political, historical, and cultural constructs, thus showing a critical engagement far beyond the film and WWI. The use of archival footage of WWII and the wars in Vietnam and Angola is a case in point. Set amidst the general context of Britain in the 1980s, with “the rise of the City and the fall of the unions, the wider retreat of the left and the return of military confidence, the energy of a renewed entrepreneurialism and the entropy of a new, entrenched unemployment, […], the property bubbles, the beleaguered 1984-5 miners’ strike, the 1986 deregulatory Big Bang in the City,” and, last but not least, the Falklands War of 1982, Jarman’s War Requiem is one of the most compelling appeals for peace in cinema.

[1] Judith Butler, Frames of War – When is Life Grievable? (London and New York: Verso, 2009), xii–xiii.

[2] John Golding, “Cubism,” in Concepts of Modern Art, ed. Nikos Stangos (London: Thames and Hudson, 1991), 62.

[3] Wilfred Owen, The Poems (New York and London: Norton, 1985), 125.

[4] Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Hill and Wang, 1982), 85.

[5] Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others (New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2003), 70.

[6] Laurent Gervereau, “Le Vrai contre le Faux,” in Les Images qui mentent (Paris: Seuil, 2011), 91.

[7] As a recognised poet and officer decorated with the Military Cross, Sassoon publicly condemned the ongoing conflict as a “war of aggression and conquest” in his Public Statement of Defiance in July 1917. In order to avoid court-martial, he was transferred to Craiglockhart. Sassoon was thus effectively silenced, his case clearly showing the power of the State to ‘neutralise’ anti-war sentiment.

[8] I have analysed the poem in my publication: Caroline Perret,“Wilfred Owen: A Remembrance Tale (2007) and Gillies MacKinnon’s Regeneration – Behind the Lines (1997).” In The Great War in Post-Memory Literature, Drama and Film, edited by Marzena Sokolowska-Paryz and Martin Loeschnigg, Berlin: De Gruyter (‘Media and Cultural Memory series’), 2014.

[9] Judith Butler, Frames of War – When is Life Grievable? (London and New York: Verso, 2009), xii–xiii.

[10] See Jean-Jacques Rousseau, “Discours sur l’Origine et les Fondements de l’Inégalité parmi les Hommes,” in Parcours Philosophiques, Gérard Durozoi et al. (Paris: Éditions Nathan, 1985), 47.

[11] As the film has no spoken dialogue, it is surprising to note that it was only released in English-speaking countries, the UK, Canada and the US, between January 1989 and 1990. Limited  VHS and Laserdisc editions were also released shortly afterwards.

[12] In this respect, it is interesting to note that War Requiem was performed for the consecration of the new Coventry Cathedral in 1963, which was built after the original fourteenth-century structure was infamously destroyed by the Luftwaffe in a World War II bombing raid in 1940.

[13] Wilfred Owen, The Poems (New York and London: Norton, 1985), 76.

[14] Peter Evans, “Britten’s War Requiem,” Tempo 61-62 (Spring-Summer 1962): 22.

[15] Stuart Hall, “For Allan White: Metaphors of Transformation,” in Stuart Hall: Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies, ed. David Morley and Kuan-Hsing Chen (London and New York: Routledge, 1996), 290-92.

[16] Sigmund Freud, Mourning and Melancholia, trans. James Strachey (London: The Hogarth Press, 1957 [1917]), 243–258.

[17] Wilfred Owen, The Poems (New York and London: Norton, 1985), 125.

[18] Slavoj Žižek, “Passions of the Real, Passions of Semblance,” in Welcome to the Desert of the real: Five Essays on September 11 and Related Dates (New York: Verso, 2002), 22.

[19] Jacques Lacan, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis, trans. Alan Sheridan (London: Penguin Books, 1977), 129.

[20] Here I use concepts developed in Judith Mayne, “Hiroshima mon Amour: Ways of Seeing, Ways of Telling,” in The 1978 Film Studies Annual (West Lafayette: Purdue University, 1978), 49-51.

Notes on Contributor

Dr Caroline Perret is currently Research Associate for the Group for War and Culture Studies at the University of Westminster, and researches the impact of war on cultural production. She is particularly interested in art, illustrated books, literature, films and poetry in the historical, political, social, and cultural context of WWI and WWII in both Britain and France. Her most recent publication is ‘Wilfred Owen and his War Poetry in Jeremy Paxman’s “Wilfred Owen: A Remembrance Tale” (2007) and Gillies MacKinnon’s “Regeneration – Behind the Lines” (1997)’, in The Great War in Post-Memory Literature, Drama and Film, edited by Marzena Sokolowska-Paryz and Martin Loeschnigg, De Gruyter’s ‘Media and Cultural Memory series’, October 2014.


With all my most sincere thanks to Helena Scott for her constant help and support.


Barthes, Roland. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. Translated by Richard Howard. New York: Hill and Wang, 1982.

Beckett, Andy. “Bang! A History of Britain in the 1980s by Graham Stewart – Review: a study of Thatcher’s era that leaves vital questions unanswered.” The Guardian, January 17, 2013.http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/jan/17/bang-history-britain-1980s-review. Accessed April 10, 2015

Butler, Judith. Frames of War – When is Life Grievable? London and New York: Verso, 2009.

Evans, Peter. “Britten’s War Requiem.” Tempo 61-62 (Spring-Summer 1962): 20-24 / 29-39.

Freud, Sigmund. Mourning and Melancholia. Translated by James Strachey. London: The Hogarth Press, 1957 [1917].

Golding, John. “Cubism.” In Concepts of Modern Art, edited by Nikos Stangos, 53-81. London: Thames and Hudson, 1991.

Gervereau, Laurent. “Le Vrai contre le Faux.” In Les Images qui mentent, 91, Paris: Seuil, 2011.

Hall, Stuart. “For Allen White: Metaphors of Transformation.” In Stuart Hall: Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies, edited by David Morley and Kuan-Hsing Chen, 290-92. London and New York: Routledge, 1996.

Lacan, Jacques. The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis. Translated by Alan Sheridan. London: Penguin Books, 1977.

Mayne, Judith. “Hiroshima mon Amour: Ways of Seeing, Ways of Telling.” In The 1978 Film Studies Annual, 49-51, West Lafayette: Purdue University, 1978.

Owen, Wilfred. The Poems. New York and London: Norton, 1985.

Perret, Caroline. “Wilfred Owen: A Remembrance Tale (2007) and Gillies MacKinnon’s Regeneration – Behind the Lines (1997).” In The Great War in Post-Memory Literature, Drama and Film, edited by Marzena Sokolowska-Paryz and Martin Loeschnigg, Berlin: De Gruyter (‘Media and Cultural Memory series’), 2014.

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. “Discours sur l’Origine et les Fondements de l’Inégalité parmi les Hommes.” In Parcours Philosophiques, edited by Gérard Durozoi et al., 47, Paris: Éditions Nathan, 1985 [1755].

Sontag, Susan. Regarding the Pain of Others. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2003.

Žižek, Slavoj. “Passions of the Real, Passions of Semblance.” In Welcome to the Desert of the real: Five Essays on September 11 and Related Dates, New York: Verso, 2002.


War Requiem (Derek Jarman, 1988).