Sunday, December 21, 2014

Andrew Hadfield's "Edmund Spenser: A Life"

Andrew Hadfield is Professor of English at the University of Sussex. He is author of a number of works on early modern literature.

Here Hadfield dreamcasts an adaptation of his book, Edmund Spenser: A Life:
I have always wanted to make a film or have a film made of Edmund Spenser’s life, preferably an experimental film that linked his life and works. I think Benedict Cumerbatch should play Edmund Spenser as a tormented, slightly quizzical and disaffected intellectual aware of his own brilliance. Colin Farrell will play Gabriel Harvey, Spenser’s irascible mentor who cannot resist a quarrel but who also has much to offer. Jude Law would be Sir Walter Raleigh, brutal, histrionic and self-regarding, but not without flamboyant abilities even as he slightly patronises Spenser. Elizabeth Olsen will play Machabyas Childe, Spenser’s first wife; Abbie Cornish or Chloe Sevigny, Elizabeth Boyle, the second wife about whom Spenser writes so much and who he clearly valued highly as a woman of substance and a partner. Gillian Anderson will play Elizabeth I, haughty and aloof and aware that time is running out for her. Guy Pearce will play Arthur, Lord Grey de Wilton, the Lord Deputy of Ireland for whom Spenser worked as a secretary, and who was responsible for the notorious Massacre at Smerwick in 1580.

The action will take place principally in London, Dublin and south-west Ireland, and will concentrate on the beautiful but very alien Irish landscape that haunted the poet’s imagination. Some distinguished actors will be required to play significant courtiers and patrons of Spenser – the earls of Essex, Leicester and Worcester; William Cecil, Lord Burghley – as well as other literary figures – Sir Philip Sidney, Thomas Nashe, William Shakespeare – but these will be relatively minor roles in the film. There will need to be a cast of Irish figures as well as the military personnel that Spenser would have known in Ireland, but most of these will be relatively small roles too. The main substance of the film should be limited to the interactions between a relatively small number of characters which would more accurately – and interestingly – represent Spenser’s intense and often quite isolated life. The film should not be a grand costume drama.

I will direct it, even though I have no relevant experience. My Oscar speech is already written.
Learn more about Edmund Spenser: A Life at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue