The Picture of Dorian Gray was aesthete Oscar Wilde’s only novel, although he wrote a number of poems and children’s stories before it was published in 1890 (in Lippincott’s Magazine). Like much of his work and life, the Gothic novel Dorian Gray was controversial. In his preface to the book he famously wrote that, "There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all". The novel is a brilliant portrait of vanity and depravity tinged with sadness. The picture of the title is a splendid work painted by Basil Hallward of the orphaned boy Dorian Gray who is the heir to a great fortune. Lord Henry and Hallward discuss the boy and the remarkable painting. Dorian in front of his own portrait sees his beauty for the first time and declares he would give his soul if he were always to be young and the painting instead would grow old. As the story pans out, Dorian leaves his fiancée - the actress Sibyl Vane - because through a single bad performance he claims that she has ‘killed’ his love. She kills herself with poison and Dorian is unaffected. So begins the tale of the boy’s descent into low society in London while still giving dinners and musicals for high society. He is inspired by two things: the book Lord Henry sends him that seems to predict his own life in dissecting every virtue and every sin from the past; and secondly the picture of himself which grows steadily older and more vicious looking compared to his own mirror image which remains young. Fanatical about the portrait, he is driven to murder and deception. As others are drawn into this web of evil Dorian himself longs to return to innocence but his method is horrific and tragic.
PART II - BACK FROM THE MOVIES
So, at last, I succeded in watching this movie! It was not that easy. For example, we had to drive for 72 km, to Rome, to see it. Then, after queueing for quite a bit, (did all those people really want to see that film?) we were said there was only a seat left and we were TWO (my husband and I!). We drove to another cinema fearing it was too late, and , finally, we managed to find two comfortable seats. First of all, I didn't expect such crowded theatres. Usually when I go to the cinema to see period movies I'm interested in , I comfortably sit among very few people. Moreover, among that noisy (too noisy) crowd, there were many teenagers... I really don't know if it happens also in other parts of the world but Italian young people can be rather wild mannered in public places. Briefly, they thought they were at the stadium watching a match: they commented loudly, they shout at the actors on the screen, they clapped and ... laughed were there was nothing to laugh at!
Apart from all the unpleasant happenings before and during the film , I was rather interested and not at all bored while watching ... I was so busy discovering the (SO MANY!) differences between the novel and the movie! I 'm not going to list them: they are numerous, so numerous, I'd rather say: are they sure they read the same novel I read before writing the script?
I know they needed to add blood, sex, action , creepy devices, to get the modern watcher involved but there should be a limit! The story has been completely transformed, even its key ideas.
Did I like the movie? Not so much. Would I have liked it if I hadn't known the book so well? Neither. Not the sort of movie I'd drive to Rome and bear a crowd of noisy teenagers!
Do you want me to find at least one thing to save? I'll give you two: Colin Firth and Dorian's ... clothes!