Watch: The Faerie Queene video

October 2010

Watch Freya Birren's film The Faerie Queene (2010) starring Jennifer Walshe.

"The British poet Edmund Spenser wrote his epic poem The Faerie Queene in the late 16th century while living as a coloniser in Ireland. Spenser despised the Irish, and wrote the poem in praise of Elizabeth I, in the hopes of currying enough favour to be summoned back to court in England. The poem is set in “Faerieland” and follows a group of knights in an examination of the Virtues. Book V, “The Book of Justice,” deals with the trial of Mary Queen of Scots and the “Irish Question.” Spenser’s answer to this question was negative in the extreme. The second portion of The Faerie Queene was published in 1596, the same year that Spenser wrote A View of the State of Ireland. In the latter, Spenser derided the Irish as barbaric savages and recommended their pacification by brutal means and, if necessary, their extermination. Birren takes the atmosphere of Spenser’s “Faerieland” and the overtones of genocidal violence and destruction in A View of the State of Ireland as a jumping-off point to create her own surreal vision. At the heart of Birren’s film is Eostre, the Celtic goddess of fertility and spring who is associated with hares, defending her fairy circle from onslaught."

Commissioned by the Chelsea Art Museum, New York, with assistance from the Arts Council of Ireland.

Faerie Queene (2010) was made by Freya Birren, starring Jennifer Walshe, with special thanks to Knut Olaf Sunde, An Snag Breac, Blackie Bouffant, Style Kincaid, Carrig Glas Manor & McGolrick Park.

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