Monday, March 22, 2010

Dorian Gray (2009)

"He (the painting) will always look like that. You, Mr. Gray, I'm afraid, will not. We wither and scar because the gods are cruel and hateful."

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde is one of my favourite books. I like Wilde's writing style, which is very readable. There are usually also many beautiful quotes in his works. The book is about moral corruption and a handsome young man who sells his soul to the devil.

Basically Oliver Parker did a wonderful job because the 2 essential points from the original novel are well depicted in the movie. Dorian Gray (Ben Barnes) comes to London from the country as the sole heir of his grandfather. Dorian in the beginning is an innocent, pure young man, with a beautiful face and body, but a weak mind. Unfortunately, he befriends sinister Lord Henry (Colin Firth), and follows his wicked advices. Lord Henry is actually jealous of him, so he cannot be sincere. Lord Henry says to Dorian: "I envy you. Everything is possible for you, because you have the only two things worth having: youth and beauty." and "Life is a moment. There is no hereafter. So make it burn always with the hardest flame." Dorian's other friend, painter Basil Hallward (Ben Chaplin), gives him a painting of his portrait. Knowing that he will lose his beauty in years to come, Dorian makes a pact with the devil so that he will always be young and beautiful. Every time he commits a crime, the painting gets uglier and uglier, that he is forced to hide it in the attic. Twenty years later, Lord Henry is an old man with white hair, but Dorian Gray still looks the same: young and beautiful; but with a terrible secret in the attic. [Almost like Mr Rochester in Jane Eyre. A terrible secret in the attic.]

My only complain is the number of nudity. I think perhaps they can invent various crimes for Dorian to commit, and not merely ruining women or killing those who almost uncover his secret. I had also prepared myself to see a horrid painting in the end, but it turned out not as scary as I'd thought. Anita Ekberg's picture in Le tentazioni del dottor Antonio (Boccaccio '70) is more menacing.  

Yesterday's sermon in my church was by chance a bit connected with this movie: "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners (Psalm 1:1)"

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