Derek Jarman’s bold, offbeat biography of philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.

We have released three Derek Jarman films – Caravaggio (1986), Wittgenstein (1993) and The Angelic Conversation (1985) – on DVD, all digitally restored and re-mastered and each with extensive and illuminating extra features.

The films were made with the BFI Production Board, whose aim was to foster innovation in British filmmaking, thus providing a natural home for Jarman’s artistic sensibility. These three films represent highpoints in his career and are perhaps the most enduring in their appeal and relevance to contemporary audiences.

Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once stated that philosophy ought to be written as if it were poetry, and a poetic intensity typified his life and his work. No wonder, then, that a creative talent such as Derek Jarman should respond with such characteristic energy to a commission from Channel 4 for a film about the philosopher, written by radical literary theorist Terry Eagleton.

Wittgenstein is a bold offbeat biography, personalised in Jarman’s unique style to address the politics and sexuality of the great but troubled man. The result is no dry treatise, but a treat for eyes and mind alike.

Exceeding the limitations of its miniscule budget, Wittgenstein is full of arresting visuals and bold performances from Tilda Swinton, Michael Gough, and Karl Johnson, who brilliantly captures Wittgenstein in all his torment and drama. It was to be Jarman’s penultimate film, and is infused with the sense of artistic adventure, intelligence and playfulness that characterised his life and work.

Special features

  • Specially commissioned interviews with Tilda Swinton, Karl Johnson, and producer Tariq Ali.
  • Extensive behind-the-scenes footage showing Derek Jarman at work on set.
  • Filmed introduction by film historian Ian Christie.
  • The Clearing (Alexis Bistikas, 1994, 7 mins), a short film featuring Derek Jarman.
  • 18-page illustrated booklet including introductory essay by Colin MacCabe and interview with award-winning costume designer Sandy Powell.

Product information

    • Certificate


    • Colour


    • Sound


    • Running time


    • Languages


    • Subtitles

      English for the hearing impaired

    • Original aspect ratio


    • DVD region

      • 2 Europe (except Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus), Middle East, Egypt, Japan, South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Greenland, French Overseas departments and territories

BFI Shop

DVDs and Blu Ray

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    Buy Caravaggio on DVD and Blu Ray

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  • Buy The Angelic Conversation on DVD and Blu Ray

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    Buy Derek on DVD and Blu Ray

    Punk Britain, gay Britain, Thatcher’s Britain, Derek Jarman tackled the lot. Isaac Julien’s film celebrates the life, vision and legacy of one of Britain’s great artists.

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