Akeroyd Collection


Derek Jarman, Electric Fairy, 1971

Electric Fairy (1971) is a rarely seen Super 8 film, one of many that have been newly digitized in recent years. James Mackay, an early collaborator, and friend of Jarman painstakingly digitised and restored 92 of his rarely-seen films. In doing so, Mackay has made these works accessible and Electric Fairy is often cited as the first on 16 mm and a film whose aesthetic and cinematic language can be seen as a progenitor of much that followed into Jarman’s prolific career. In this work, unscripted action occurs between a variously undressed actor, wearing radio headphones, and sitting with a range of props. There are figurines, a pumpkin, vases, and furniture. The protagonist toys with a live caterpillar, allowing it to crawl over their body and over their hand, before introducing it to the various items in the scene. Finally, they put the caterpillar in their mouth and seemingly ingest the living animal. There is a close-cropped sensuality to the filming, and it is not lost on the viewer, the correlation between the transformative inevitability of the caterpillar and the protagonist's own metamorphosis.

Medium16 mm
Duration6 minutes 30 seconds
Editionof 5 + 1 AP