King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid – A Modern Retelling was commissioned by Tate Collective for Tate Britain’s current exhibition on Pre-Raphaelite painter Edward Burne-Jones. The idea was to reproduce the painting in a film within a contemporary context to make it more relatable to the younger generations (16-25). Introduce: Director Andrea Mae Perez, keen enthusiast of magic realism as a visual artform. "This story is a classic within pop culture. Films like the 90’s Romeo in Juliet have been key to my generation. I thought it would be interesting to re-apply this tale to our context. With people being so at reach in our times, what does impossible love look like?"
Burne-Jones’s painting of the African king Cophetua and his love for the beggar Penelophon was based on an Elizabethan ballad and Tennyson’s poem The Beggar Maid. The painting became famous for its technical execution and theme of love and beauty transcending power and material wealth. It was regarded as one of the finest paintings ever produced by a British artist and was widely admired on the Continent. The picture’s egalitarian story has also been connected with the socialism of Burne-Jones’s close friend William Morris.
In this film, we follow King Cophetua as he navigates his way through our real and virtual worlds to find true love.