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Wittgenstein is a 1993 film by the English director Derek Jarman. It is loosely based on the life story as well as the philosophical thinking of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. The adult Wittgenstein is played by Karl Johnson.

Wittgenstein (film).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDerek Jarman
Assistant Director - Davina Nicholson
Produced byTariq Ali
Takashi Asai
Ben Gibson
Eliza Mellor
Written byKen Butler
Terry Eagleton
Derek Jarman
StarringClancy Chassay, Michael Gough and Tilda Swinton
Music byJan Latham-Koenig[1]
CinematographyJames Welland
Edited byBudge Tremlett
Release date
17 September 1993 (1993-09-17)
Running time
75 minutes
CountryJapan, United Kingdom
Budget£300,000 ($ 450,000)[1]

The original screenplay was by the literary critic Terry Eagleton. Jarman heavily rewrote the script during pre-production and shooting, radically altering the style and structure, although retaining much of Eagleton's dialogue. The story is not played out in a traditional setting, but rather against a black backdrop within which the actors and key props are placed, as if in a theatre setting.

The film was originally part of a series of 12 films on the life and ideas of the philosopher, produced by Tariq Ali on behalf of Channel Four. Only four scripts got commissioned, Socrates by Howard Brenton, Spinoza by Tariq Ali, Locke by David Edgar and Wittgenstein by Terry Eagleton. Spinoza was filmed and directed by Chris Spencer as Spinoza : The Apostle of Reason. Also Citizen Locke was filmed and directed by Agnieszka Piotrowska. They were transmitted in 1994 as 52 min long television films.[2]


Principal castEdit


  • Eagleton, Terry (1993). Wittgenstein: The Terry Eagleton Script, The Derek Jarman Film. London, England: British Film Institute, pp. 151. ISBN 978-0-85170-397-8



Critical reception for the film has been generally positive and the movie holds a rating of 83% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 6 reviews.[5] Derek Elley of Variety described it as an "immaculately lensed, intellectual joke" with a "gay subtext".[1]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Elley, Derek (23 February 1993). "Wittgenstein". Variety. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  2. ^ Rowland Wymer Derek Jarman, p. 158, at Google Books
  3. ^ Tindle, Hannah (14 June 2017). "Tilda Swinton's Most Fabulous Character to Date". Retrieved 21 September 2018.
  4. ^ Derek Jarman Smiling in Slow Motion, p. 324, at Google Books
  5. ^ "Wittgenstein". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 21 September 2018.

External linksEdit